Ideas Spreading Like Virus

Ideas are not private things. The best ideas in the world often lack traction because the timing is wrong, the presentation is poor or they simply never get heard. But the biggest reason, at least to my mind, is that they simply don’t find advocacy. Ideas are social beings, just their creators, and without others taking up the banner, an idea will die. Ideas spread when people choose to spread them. With the exception of simply having no choice, here are some reasons why an idea spreads:

  • Because it makes you look smart by showing the world what you’ve learned.
  • Because you care about the success and well being of the person who generated the idea.
  • Because you want help understanding the idea.
  • Because the idea may help other people.
  • Because members of your social groups will benefit from the idea.
  • Because it is amusing.
  • Because if others adopt the idea, you will directly benefit.
  • Because it makes you feel magnanimous.
  • Because you have an emotional bond with the inventor.

The list could go on almost endlessly, but the point is that no matter how good an idea is, it needs to find people to articulate it. That means thinking through the reasons why people would spread the word. Communication is a social act, a symbolic act. Knowing that is as important as the idea itself.


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