solution-focused thinking

Somebody asked me, where do ideas come from? I wish I knew. Some things I believe though, about ideas, are as follows.

Nobody owns them. Once you’ve shared them they are out there in the world and you’ll lose control as quickly as you put them out there (I first saw this happen, as a young designer, in the 1960s. Nothing’s changed except that ideas are even more freely available than they ever were).

Your ideas are not you. So don’t show off. Test them, share them, apply them, but don’t brag about them or use them as a badge of identity (or a smokescreen).

They are probably not new. Somebody, somewhere has had the same ideas. At best you are recycling something useful which others around you either hadn’t noticed or needed reminding of, and recycling’s good and environmentally desirable, right? (There’s no ‘probably’ about it, I’m just treading softly in case all this is news to you).

They are abundant. There’s an unlimited supply. Often just when you think you’re out of them, one will pop up (in fact, being out of ideas is exactly where a lot of good ideas appear).

People (and organisations) who say that they own ideas are wrong. They certainly think they do though (and there’s usually money involved).

An idea doesn’t have to be practical or useful to be valuable. The beauty of ideas is that they exist for what they are. In many ways they are like flowers; their beauty lies in how you feel about them. Some may give you hay fever or an allergic reaction, but that doesn’t mean they should be exterminated.

None of this answers the question “Where do ideas come from?”, I’m just exploring an idea.


I’m a psychologist, coach, and therapist. All my work is aimed at enabling people to improve personal aspects of their lives and work.


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