There is a column in the August 24th issue of Nature speaking about having bad ideas that turn into good ideas. The column was directed to the scientist, and how science is all about sorting the wheat from the chaff.
The column starts with Pauling's principle of electroneutrality stating each atom in a stable substance has a charge close to zero. But goes on to mention another principle of Linus Pauling ...
... that if you want to have good ideas, you must have lots of bad ideas and learn to throw away the bad ones.
This second principle was mentioned in a presentation "The Impact of Linus Pauling on Molecular Biology" and the advice that to have good ideas you have to generate lots of ideas and some of those are going to be bad.
How To Sort Out Good Ideas From The Bad Ideas
Having lots of ideas, some good, some bad is necessary, but not sufficient for generating useful ideas. So how do we sort them out?
Rufus Griscom, a serial entrepreneur and founder of Heleo, an online publishing platform, sees bad ideas as a sort of tool for eventually discovering big opportunities. “A lot of bad ideas backed by a passionate entrepreneur can work on a small scale. Then, adjacent to those bad ideas, there may be some very powerful good ideas. If you really care about it, there’s a decent chance that other people care about it too and you can get it to critical mass. Then, if it does prove to, in fact, be a bad idea, you can find something adjacent to it that is a very powerful idea.” [HBR, Dec 27, 2016]
So what about bad ideas in the project management world, especially the Agile Software Development world. How do we sort the Wheat from the Chaff?
One starting point is to ask if the ideas have any basis in a principle of how business or development of software actually works? Does this idea have any way of being tested against established principles?
Does the idea
- Have any basis in a principle of how business or development of software actually works?
- Does this idea have any way of being tested against those established principles?
- Does this idea violate any principle or regulation?
This approach provides for bad ideas to evolve into good ideas once the idea comes in contact with principles or business governance. This notion of Principle Based Discussion is a powerful approach, It sorts out the Wheat from the Chaff, by asked those proposing the idea to show how the idea Does Not Violate the Established Principles, or how the Established Principles need to be modified to allow the bad idea to become a good idea.
The challenge in our project and program management world, as well as the world of software development, is who gets to say what is a good idea and what is a bad idea?
Those who get to say bad from good are usually those paying for the idea. If it's your money you still need to sort out the good from bad. This is the quest of entrepreneurs.
But when spending other peoples money, ideas need to support the needs of those paying for our work. Those who pay usually have some form of governance of their money.
Governance is About Decision Rights
Effective, clearly defined decision rights can drive efficiency and accountability while empowering individuals to make the right decisions at the right time. Here's some more background on Governance