Archive for February, 2007


Where do ideas come from?

February 20, 2007

pool balls

I was watching a pool game one evening, gazing aimlessly with nothing on my mind. I fixed my eyes on the table and the balls flying from one corner to the other. The game was black 8, and the white ball was the star of the show. It gets the first kick from the stick, speed in its direction as it bumps into other balls, making them go in different routes. If the player is lucky and plays well, the final ball will fall into the net, and a big victorious cheer will echo the room.

This scene reminds me with how we get our wonderful ideas in extraordinary moments; many times not the moment we were expecting.


We face a challenge, in life, at work or even in our heads, and we set to solve it. We brainstorm solutions, follow thought threads and think logically. In other words, hit it with a stick.

The idea flies, moving from one direction in our heads to the next, all the while spinning fast, and sometimes, stopping completely to hit another idea and develop a new route.

Those other ideas sometimes are enriched with this sudden visit that we are able to solve a completely different problem with this new tick. Hence the other balls that were hit move along in their own – unintended – direction.

Following the “intended” ball, whether it is the same first (white) idea, or now with a new color, it moves in its direction until, if we are lucky and worked hard, it hits the nest, making us scream with joy of our found treasure.

This mechanism will defer from a problem to the next, and from a player to the other. Taking anything from few seconds – like the pool game – to few weeks, depending on its complexity, availability of other balls or other players (our network).

You see, we don’t need to be geniuses to come up with winning movements, only have the ability to hit in the right direction, using the right tools and connect ideas and watch the game unfold on its own. By continuously playing the game, we increase our chances in playing better the next time, and getting our desired results.

Now take a look at your own tools, are your cues in good condition? Can you easily locate the chalks for a refined hit? Do you possess basic geometry knowledge for positioning yourself? Are you enjoying the game or rushing in to get to the end?


Think about it. And while you are still interested, check out a related article by Jefferey Baumgartner , explaining the differences between imagination, creativity, ideas, and innovation. A must read to help you flow from one ball to the next.