The problem with the first idea

Janko Jovanovic
Oct 30, 2017 · 2 min read
Image for post
Image for post

The first idea is just that — a first idea. A gut reaction to the problem at hand. And yet, we often treat it as a final one. We stick to that first thought — give it a lot of love, refine it, nurture it and defend it. Until it proves to be wrong and we get frustrated.

Don’t give your first idea any love.

Think of it as just one option, rather than a final one. That way, you will be inclined to find alternative ideas. Many of them. Frame your problem in a different perspective and explore it in a different context. Try a bizarre version of it. If an idea hasn’t been taken to unusual places, it hasn’t been explored enough. One question can have many answers, so go broad, go wild and go beyond the obvious.

The time for judgment will come later, when you will need to choose between many alternative ideas and identify the strongest. But, you need to first create choices in order to be able to make the right one.

Humans have a natural tendency for convergent thinking, especially in groups. We’re more exposed to it in our lives. Unlike divergent thinking, which is messy and ambiguous, convergent thinking is logical and accurate.

However, the greatest ideas come out of a messy process in which you bounce between divergent and convergent thinking along the way. In the end, that’s what differentiates a brilliant idea from a mediocre one.

Originally published at

Contentful Design

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store