How to identify ideas that won’t stink

Creativity is all about coming up with new, innovative ideas, right?

Actually, coming up with new ideas is only half of what creativity is about. Another - huge - part of creativity is being able to identify which ideas are great, and which are not so great. But being able to identify which ideas won’t stink is just as difficult as coming up with new ideas; unless, of course, you know what to look for in your creative ideas.

Looking for specific traits in your creative ideas is necessary to sniffing out ideas that won’t stink. And even though all creative ideas have the potential to be truly great, some ideas are better than others right off the bat. Here are a few traits you should look for when trying to identify ideas that won’t stink:

The original idea begs for further investigation. Whenever you come up with an idea that is easy to ignore - or move on from - then you know you have an idea that will eventually stink. But when you come up with an idea that just keeps nagging you at the back of the head, go with your instincts and work with the idea. Ideas that beg further investigation immediately are ideas that will intrigue others, and that means success on multiple levels.

The idea makes something easier for somebody. If you look at some of the biggest and best ideas of all time, you’ll recognize something they all have in common: they made something easier for someone. When you think up an idea that makes something easier for somebody, it’s best to run with that idea. At least somebody will appreciate it.

The idea seems so simple. Creative ideas that won’t stink are ones that should have been thought up years ago. When you look at paintings, machines, books, and websites that make you slap your head and say “duh”, you are looking at ideas that are great because they just make sense. If your creative idea appears to just make sense - and it seems so simple - then go with it. Simple ideas are the ones that people relate to and, as such, don’t stink. Don’t think that your idea is too simple, it’s safe to bet that it’s an idea that won’t stink.

The idea doesn’t create more problems. At the base of creativity is problem solving; ideas that create problems are ideas that stink. Any idea that doesn’t create more problems is probably a great idea, and if the idea doesn’t create problems and it matches other attributes listed here, chances are that it is a truly remarkable idea.

The idea is recognizable by others. As creative beings, we often think highly of ideas we come up with on our own… even if they stink. Getting other people’s feedback on ideas is a foolproof way to identify whether or not an idea will stink. If others can’t recognize the potential of your idea, it is most likely a stinky idea. But if other people look at, or hear about, your idea and recognize its value, it is definitely a great idea. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas with people you trust, just be weary of people who might want to take your ideas as their own.

The idea is expandable. A lot of ideas are just that: ideas. They never become anything more because they don’t have ways to expand. Making sure that your idea is expandable is a good way to make sure it won’t stink. If you have the means to make your idea a reality, then it’s a good idea. Otherwise, it may be an stinky idea that will never become anything more than just a stinky idea.

Being able to identify which creative ideas are great, and which ideas stink, is clearly valuable to you as a creative person. Keep in mind that these are only a few ways to identify an idea that won’t stink, and - as mentioned before - all ideas have potential to be great. If your ideas beg for further investigation, if they make something easier than it previously was, if they seem to be simple, if they don’t cause more problems, if they are expandable, and if other people recognize value in them, then your ideas aren’t stinky; however, if your idea doesn’t fit with any of the traits mentioned here, you may want to try out a different idea or approach.