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Unimplemented Creative Ideas Photo by: Nicco | Source: photocase.com

It's fashionable to say that good creative ideas have to be implemented or they're not worth anything. It’s a sentiment in line with expectations for efficiency, productivity, and the ultimate value of execution.

But it's also a load of crap.

Saying creative ideas are only good if they're implemented is like saying a major league baseball player is only good if he hits a home run every time at bat. Or an NBA basketball player is only good if he scores every time down the court and no one ever scores off him.

Sure, either of these situations would be fantastic, but they are completely unrealistic and defy the dynamics of baseball and basketball.

In reality, there all types of good baseball and basketball players. Great players in both sports perform at the top of their games in various ways. Scoring is only part of success. Contributing to others scoring is vital. Playing outstanding defense is another aspect. Performing at outstanding levels in specific, defined roles (i.e., a baseball closer isn't expected to throw six innings) is part of success too.

7 Good Creative Ideas that Might Never Be Implemented

The same phenomenon applies to brainstorming good creative ideas whether or not they are implemented. Not every creative idea gains its value from being implemented as originally envisioned.

From thinking about how players contribute in baseball and basketball outside of scoring, here are seven types of ideas that may never see the light of day in their original form, yet are still important:

  • Ingredient Ideas – These creative ideas become part of a bigger idea and may disappear entirely as independent ideas.
  • Trigger Ideas – These lead to or enable other ideas that ARE implemented.
  • Temporary Ideas - Creative ideas that are clearly not the end result, but will suffice in a pinch until better ideas come along.
  • Sacrificial Ideas - They fall short of what's needed but get a brainstorming group’s competitive juices going toward brainstorming other better creative ideas.
  • Starter Ideas – These ideas work right away but are intended to be easily adapted, changed, and grown over time into something different.
  • Hail Mary Ideas - Ideas that move a brainstorming session to consider completely new, far away possibilities that change the dynamics of ideas a group is imagining.
  • Blocking Ideas – These draw a brainstorming group’s attention away from a “loser” idea that has captivated everyone’s attention so the group can start thinking about other possibilities.

Any of these types of creative ideas are good ideas, even though you may never notice them being implemented.

Innovation Metrics and "Assist" Ideas

To borrow terminology from basketball and baseball, when you total up your innovation metrics scorecard relative to brainstorming and implementing ideas, add a category for "idea assists" or "sacrifice ideas” just as you would find in basketball and baseball scoring stats.

Even though it might be difficult or nearly impossible to keep track of these types of ideas, your innovation metrics scorecard isn't complete unless you include these good ideas in your stats. – Mike Brown

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