Skip to main content

Why Your Idea is Probably Bad, and That’s OK

I’ve noticed that people often become very attached to their ideas, and don’t like having any flaws pointed out, or even questioned. That’s ok when it’s your own personal interest, but it’s a big problem when you’re part of a team working on a large and expensive project with a lot at stake. A key part of being a good Business Analyst is developing the habit of questioning everything so that you can sort the good from the bad.


In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit that before I started working as a consultant in IT I studied physics to a pretty advanced level. When you study one of the fundamental sciences you find that it’s really, really hard. And because it’s so hard, you learn to get used to being wrong most of the time, and not to become too attached to your ideas or be too fearful of criticism. You also learn how to go about testing ideas, and develop a healthy scepticism of silver bullets.

The reasons your idea is probably bad

The number one reason why your idea is probably bad is that there are simply many more ways to be wrong than right. In the space of all possible ideas the chances of hitting on a good one are improbably small. Of course you can have good ideas, but it’s likely that you’ll have many bad ideas before you hit on a good one.

The number two reason your idea is probably bad is that there are no really new ideas – only variations on existing ideas. The chances are good that somebody else already had your idea but then discovered it was bad, so it wasn’t pursued.

Why that’s ok

A good idea is only recognised as such after it’s been tested – and that means letting others criticise them. A vital part of the scientific process is peer review. This is essentially the process of putting your ideas in front of other people and allowing them to shoot. Einstein wasn’t lauded for his theories of relativity until after they had been pulled apart and survived experimental testing. At the time they weren’t obviously right.

Most entrepreneurs have many bad ideas, and fail many times, before they hit on the formula for a successful company – and become famous for it. You can’t expect to move into a new field and suddenly solve all the existing problems that others have failed to solve. You need to develop a deeper understanding before you’ll be able to spot why ideas are bad and then come up with good ones.

So don’t worry about it

Most of the time you’re wrong, and it’s really ok to be wrong because if you’re not prepared to risk being wrong you’ll never be right. The path to a genuinely good idea will take you through uncharted territory and take in many false turns. But don’t listen to me, take it from Einstein:

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
― Albert Einstein

Don’t forget to leave your comments below.