The problem with the first idea

Janko Jovanovic
Oct 30, 2017 · 2 min read

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

Stories from the designers at Contentful

Janko Jovanovic

Written by

In a liminal space between People, Strategy, Foresight, Systems, Speculative design, and Ethics. Design Lead & Strategist @contentful.

Contentful Design

Stories from the designers at Contentful

More From Medium

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade