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.

Published by gavinjohnston67

Take an ex-chef who’s now a full-fledge anthropologist and set him free to conduct qualitative research, ethnography, brand positioning, strategy and sociolinguistics studies and you have Gavin. He is committed to understand design and business problems by looking at them through an anthropological lens. He believes deeply in turning research findings into actionable results that provide solid business strategies and design ideas. It's not an insight until you do something with it. With over 18 years of experience in strategy, research, and communications, he has done research worldwide for a diverse set of clients within retail, legal, banking, automotive, telecommunications, health care and consumer products industries.

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