March is International Ideas Month. According to its creators, it is “dedicated to all ideas—large, small, great, not-so-great, past and current as well as ideas yet to come. Without constant new ideas, progress and people stagnate.” Everything we use was once an idea, from computers to safety pins, from Velcro to pet rocks. Somebody somewhere had the idea that fire could be used to keep people warm and cook food. Somebody once had an idea which eventually became the Internet, without which no one could read this blog.
Some ideas have been amazing, such as the idea that the earth was round and not flat. The idea that we could someday fly to the moon. The idea that we could talk to people over long distances whether that’s telephone, Skype, or via email. The idea that we could write things down in books and pass knowledge on to the next generation that way.
Of course, not every idea succeeds. Those which do are ideas whose time has come, like Google or Facebook. There were search engines and social sites before them, but the time was not yet right. Another is Amazon, which started out as one man’s vision and is now a Web powerhouse.
One of the ways I got ideas when I was supervisor over technical services in the library were my student workers. They were always asking why we did things the way we did. Most often I was able to explain, but every once in a while I would say, “Well because… because… I don’t know. Let’s try not doing it and see what happens.” It was a good way to streamline processes.
And that’s one of the secrets to getting ideas – to question. Another is to get sick of doing something the way you have always done it. My Dad used to say, “If you want something done, give it to a lazy person. They will figure out the fastest and easiest way to do it.”
So take a look around at what you are doing today and ask questions and think if it might be done in a better way.
Quotes about ideas
The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.–Linus Pauling
Books won’t stay banned. They won’t burn. Ideas won’t go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only weapon against bad ideas is better ideas.–Alfred Whitney Griswold
A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.–Sir Barnett Cocks
A culture that doesn’t value its librarians doesn’t value ideas and without ideas, well, where are we?–Neil Gaiman
The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.– John Maynard Keynes
Every new idea looks crazy at first.–Robert Olson
An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.–Edward de Bono
If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.–George Bernard Shaw
A mind once stretched by a new idea never regains it original dimension.–Oliver Wendell Holmes
A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a joke or worried to death by a frown on the right person’s brow.–Charles Brower
New ideas pass through three periods: 1) It can’t be done. 2) It probably can be done, but it’s not worth doing. 3) I knew it was a good idea all along!–Arthur C. Clarke
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