It’s called “Idea Cauldron.” I created it in the late 1990s to deal with a plethora of ideas for Halifax Pride Week coming in from a large number of people.
The Problem & Proposal
- We have all been on committees where people offer great ideas for other people to do, and have been irritated by them at worst, and forced to ignore most of them at best.
- In any collaborative environment, any society or committee, the supply-to-demand ratio of good ideas is effectively infinite: there are more good ideas than the society/committee can ever actually realize) making the value of each good idea, almost zero.
- Declaring that good ideas are not precious is radical! This is anathema in our society, in which there is some goofy hope that all you have to do is have a good idea, and people will follow, realize it and you’ll be rich and famous. However Ben Franklin declared it; someone asked him where he got his good ideas, he said, “I get them for a nickel per bushel.”
- What is valuable is someone offering to realize an idea. What is valuable is someone committing time to act on the idea.
- The Idea Cauldron is a way to identify which ideas have a chance of being realized, by asking people if they would commit time to making them happen.
- Terminology: I use the word “Team” here instead of “Committee” or “Subcommittee,” and the word “Lead” instead of the word “Chairperson.”
- In some number of rounds (in electronic forums, once a day is probably the right frequency) you make a list of ideas, and people publicly volunteer for them. They say either, “I would be on the Team to realize that idea” or “I would Lead the team to realize that idea.”
- Would be is the term here because at that point you haven’t decided to actually do the thing.
- Each Lead offer gives the idea 5 points. Each Team offer gives the idea 1 point. Until it has someone volunteering to help realize it, each idea has 0 points.
- You add up the points, and bubble the ideas with the most, to the top of the priority list. Secondarily you end up with the teams of people who are actually going to realize the ideas.
- Notice that like pure brainstorming, you don’t need a column for “This is impossible because…” It turns out that people won’t even volunteer for their own impractical ideas.
Kevin, Susan, Kayley and Scott are planning a 20th high school reunion. They start discussing the possible things that could happen. In the tabulation (T) means someone’s offered to be on the team, (L) means someone’s offered to lead the team.
|Visit the old haunts ||Susan(L) Kayley (T) Scott(T)||7|
|Picnic ||Scott(L) Kayley(T)||6|
|Cocktail party ||Kevin(L)||5|
|Exhaustive search for alumni ||Kayley(T) Scott(T)||2|
|Wet tee shirt contest |
|Book a whole floor in a hotel |
Beautiful. At our next SaturdayHouse gathering, I’ll propose that we try this out. I’ll also propose it to our local Evolver organizer.
We could also try it out locally, but I’m not in postion to make commitments right now (I’m busy working on sustaining SaturdayHouse, writing for SpiriAta, writing for RonHaleEvans? new book, the formation of a local Evolver scene, and keeping a family and a job going.)
If I came back to CommunityWiki, I’d try this out with conversational ideas (SenseMaking) or software implementation ideas.
Please do. I really could not figure out where it belonged.
A good idea, I think. It might work, will probably take some time. Some software easily calculating results of template fill ins might help. A good idea, me T, team.
NikolaTesla? has been running around promoting his invention - the AC motor - a bit more than a century ago. Nobody wanted it, DC was hip then. Now this type of motor is in every vaccumcleaner etc. Was it not a good idea when he had it? It took some time to be successful.
And still another dicussion would be: “Is the AC motor a good idea?” Apart from being extremely successfull.
The IdeaCauldron has a touch of BarCamp, come together, see whats there and get working. Cool.
To continue adding energy – perhaps we could put this into practice here, by writing out questions that people were interested in researching and talking about together here?
Make an IdeaCouldron? of questions that people are sparked by, that they would lead conversation and research on, or that they would be interested in researching together?
Or software projects they would work on?
Or images/maps they would like to help create?
I like the way the “Idea Cauldron” allows people to say “Yes, I would be willing to work on any one of these 99 projects, but I am not willing to commit to working on all 99 projects”.
If I implement a once-a-day electronic voting forum, some things I am a bit fuzzy about:
- At the end of the day, how many ideas “win”? Only the top idea of the day? If the top 3 ideas have completely disjoint groups of volunteers, shouldn’t all 3 win?
- new ideas can be added each day, right?
- How do I expire votes?
- start from 0 every day. Flaw: If there are 100 people voting, and the top 10 ideas all get significant support, it seems tedious to force a person who is only interested in idea #10 to vote over and over again every day 10 days in a row until his favorite idea finally bubbles to the top.
- keep votes until that person retracts. Flaw: If most of the people who voted for #10 are busy working on ideas #1 through #9 and no longer have time for #10, it seems tedious to force those busy people to come back and retract their vote for #10 and each of the other 98 ideas they no longer have time for.
- Is there some better way of automatically expiring votes?
- What do you do if the top idea has, say, 5 people who want to work on it, but those 5 people want to leave it on the list as if it were not the top idea? “Start a soccer league” can’t be done with 5 people, it needs at least 22 people (two football teams of 11 people), right?