“Talent does not write one page, it writes three hundred.” – Jules Renard
Why can’t we all just get along? There seems to be a divide in the creative community with some people claiming one way to be supreme to the other. What are we talking about?
Quality vs. Quantity.
Those who argue for quantity usually claim that the diverging ideas can lead to more novel ideas even if they aren’t perfect from the get-go.
People in favor of quality tell the story of how focusing on the one great idea lead them to a more practical solution that was easier to implement.
So, who’s right? No one, and both.
It all depends on where you’re at and what kind of problem you’re posed with.
In some cases you’re better off focusing on coming up with quality ideas. When a clear and result based outcome is needed then this is probably the way to go. Businesses who have a really well framed problem that does not require a leap in innovation usually fare better when focusing on a single great idea. These are practically oriented solutions.
More common in my experience is the quantity approach. The more places you go digging the better. Then, when you find an interesting spot you just keep on digging deeper. These are feeling oriented solutions. It doesn’t need to be pretty, it doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to be remarkable.
That’s all fine and dandy, but, how do we tell if the approach we’ve taken is right or wrong?
Well, take a look at what’s happening.
Let’s say you’ve taken the quality-route. Are you feeling stifled? Is it leading absolutely nowhere? It could be that your desired outcome isn’t well defined enough to be approached in this manner. Is it practically oriented or is it feeling oriented?
In both cases you generate a variety of ideas, the difference is if you need to take into account whether or not they’re practical.
Let’s say you’re an architect involved in generating design ideas for a new library. You just blurt out: “Syphilitic monkey texture!”. Next thing you know there’s your theme. Not that you or anyone who heard it would ever tell the client.
It was totally appropriate in that setting, completely free of all judgement and it sparked great associations when it came to which materials, colors and shapes would be used in the design.
Now, there are som practical things that need to be decided. Safety issues like where the fire exits should go, crowd flow and so on. Here a statement like “Syphilitic monkey texture!” is of no use whatsoever. Best case scenario would include being heavily sedated with a tranquilizer gun and spending the rest of your days in a padded room with gruel for lunch.
Yay! We’ve made it this far, what’s next?
If we’ve generated about 450 gallons (a buttload) of ideas we first need to decide which one to focus on.
When we’re looking for a practical one it depends on your needs. Budget, time and quality are the most common. Decide which factor or which two factors are the most important.
A solution based on feelings can be decided by looking at which one of the ideas sticks out the most. Are there a lot of black dresses at the party? Check for the red ones. Quite a few red ones as well? Is there a green and orange polka dot dress? That’s the one! Go for it!
Time to actually implement our idea. It might be simple, but it ain’t gonna be easy.
We’ve talked enough about how to actually go through the process so we don’t need to go through it again.
You’re willing to work hard, you’re willing to work smart just go out and do it.
The world is waiting.