Good ideas; bad ideas

Lately, I’ve taken a liking to Seth Godin‘s books and blog. The fellow writes in a matter-of-fact way, has a fun way of presenting ideas (for example, he wrote a book called Purple Cow and I think the first 10,000 released came in a kind of milk carton), and he has no qualms about sharing other people’s successes and links to websites, blogs, etc.

One of his other books is called The Big Moo: Stop trying to be perfect and start being remarkable.

The guy doesn’t mind just throwing it out there – and he’s been very successful doing so, plus in the meantime has done a great job of promoting some interesting people, projects, and ideas. He also doesn’t have many qualms about pointing out brain farts and other hiccups.

Today on Godin’s blog he has a posting about ‘ideas’. Many of his postings are short and to the point (maybe something I can learn from…) so I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing his posting it’s called:

Fear of bad ideas

A few people are afraid of good ideas, ideas that make a difference or contribute in some way. Good ideas bring change, that’s frightening.

But many people are petrified of bad ideas. Ideas that make us look stupid or waste time or money or create some sort of backlash.

The problem is that you can’t have good ideas unless you’re willing to generate a lot of bad ones.

Painters, musicians, entrepreneurs, writers, chiropractors, accountants–we all fail far more than we succeed. We fail at closing a sale or playing a note. We fail at an idea for a series of paintings or the theme for a trade show booth.

But we succeed far more often than people who have no ideas at all.

Someone asked me where I get all my good ideas, explaining that it takes him a month or two to come up with one and I seem to have more than that. I asked him how many bad ideas he has every month. He paused and said, “none.”

OK, so yes, I recognize that I did say in an earlier posting that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is an easy target. When you’re such a big bureaucratic behemoth (B3) the bullseye is inherent. Kind of like the old Far Side cartoon:

Bummer of a birthmark, Hal

(thank you Gary Larson)

So maybe now the bureaucratic behemoth is due for a long series of good ideas. For example, the old Habitat Restoration and Salmon Enhancement Program (HRSEP) from 1997-2002 wasn’t such a bad idea – about $35 million over a period of 4-5 years put into habitat related projects. And not such a bad idea to try and put that money into community groups that actually know what’s going on in their local streams.

Money into on-the-ground projects implemented by local citizens and community groups – good idea.

Only funding the project for about one salmon life cycle – bad idea….. many community groups went from $0/year to $300,000/year back t0 $0/year in less than five years.

Spending $15-17 million on research every year (see post from yesterday) and next to $0 on local community groups implementing effective habitat and monitoring programs – not so good idea.

I don’t think I could fully list the bad ideas – however, in the spirit of Godin’s post: ‘you can’t have good ideas unless you’re willing to generate a lot of bad ones.’

What if we were due for a bunch of good ideas…?

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