Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Bouncing Ideas Around

To develop our best ideas we need (as Paul Graham and Ravi Mohan point out below) to be able to discuss them with others. The Oxford Alliance community ( is intended to be a safe place for social entrepreneurs to meet and discuss their ideas. If you have an interest in social entrepreneurship, then consider bouncing your ideas for social innovation around with us at Oxford Alliance.
Paul Graham says, in one of his essays (emphasis mine)

"....Why do you need other people? Can't you just think of new ideas yourself? The empirical answer is: no. Even Einstein needed people to bounce ideas off. Ideas get developed in the process of explaining them to the right kind of person. You need that resistance, just as a carver needs the resistance of the wood.

In my experience, this need for "friendly resistance" extends to far more than creating startups. Every time you have a new idea, you need people you can bounce it off. To get any real benefit out of this process you need people with a complex combination of characteristics.

They should

  1. have firm (but not rigid) opinions on their own

  2. have logical reasons for those beliefs and be able to articulate them clearly

  3. are driven by ideas and not ideology

  4. not attach their egos to their opinions.

  5. be willing to concede a valid argument even if it forces them to possibly re-examine their beliefs

  6. know how to listen

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Anonymous Elizabeth Laskar said...

Thank you for sharing this Tom. These are also the traits we need in good leadership.

8:11 pm  

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