FOCUS: Developing Ideas

DISCIPLINES: Personal Mastery, Mental Models, Team Learning, Systems Thinking

An idea can turn to dust or magic, depending on the talent that rubs against it.
William Bernbach


In my experience, good ideas are almost always improved by sharing.

The Baha’i Faith uses group consultation as its primary decision-making process. An important part of the practice is that as soon as an idea is expressed, it belongs to the group. The group may accept or reject it, modify or refine it. The originator has no need to defend it or take responsibility for it. This is a very freeing practice.

Imagine how things might change if this were a wide-spread practice. What if people in business and politics didn’t get attached to their ideas but trusted the process of honing an idea together for the greater good? Imagine how productive it might be if we could do this with loved ones as well. Not my idea or yours, but one that emerges when we put our ideas together and then play with them, as an artist does with clay, to see what works best for us.


  1. When I headed a team, I often took a proposal for some project to the team. Even when my idea was good, it was always improved by the input of others. I remember being amazed sometimes at the result. Frequently the ideas we adopted in the end didn’t resemble my original proposal at all. I would ask myself, “Why didn’t I think of that?” The answer, I think, is that I am only one brain. My idea needed more “talent” to “rub against it,“ as Bernbach says.

  2. When I moved into my current home, I went shopping for a sofa. I took with me a piece of graph paper on which I’d marked the dimensions of the living room, and a little cut-out piece for a sofa. I was talking to a decorator/saleswoman, when another person overheard us and came to look. She glanced at my little picture and suggested, “Why don’t you move your front door? Your living room would suddenly become much bigger.” It seemed outlandish; I thought it would be too expensive. But the idea played in my mind. Long story short, I did it. It was not expensive, and it improved the house immensely. Not in a hundred years would I have thought to move the front door!


    1. What idea are you playing with that might be improved by sharing it?
    2. Who could help you develop the idea?
    3. When will you start?


    Please join me for a 45-minute telegathering to explore ways to develop ideas by sharing in more depth. Call Thursday, April 10, 2008, at noon Eastern (11:00 a.m. Central, 10:00 a.m. MT, 9:00 a.m. Pacific) 1-641-678-3404 x968 No need to register…just call at that time!

    Read an excerpt from Liberating Greatness, the Whole Brain Guide to an Extraordinary Life, the book Hal and I wrote, at

Sharon Eakes | 720 Maple Lane | Sewickley, PA 15143

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