The Inflection Point of Good Ideas

The Inflection Point of Good Ideas

@December 21, 2023


Have you ever noticed how some ideas, the really game-changing ones, start to lose their sparkle once everyone and their neighbor starts talking about them? It's like they hit a peak, and then it's all downhill from there. This isn't just about trends; it's about how great ideas change once they go mainstream.

The Lifecycle of Ideas

Think of ideas like stories. They start small, maybe in someone's garage or a tiny café, whispered between friends. Then they grow legs, sprinting across our collective minds, until one day, you find them everywhere – in boardrooms, classrooms, even on bumper stickers. But in that journey from "Wow, that's genius!" to "Oh, that old thing?", they often lose a bit of their magic.

Historical Examples

History's full of this stuff. Take the Renaissance – it started as a radical reboot of art and thinking. Those ideas were rebellious, dangerous even. Fast forward a few centuries, and they're the stuff of textbooks and museum tours. Or think about the philosophies of the ancient Greeks. Once upon a time, they were revolutionary. Now, they're often just footnotes in a philosophy 101 course.

Case Study: The Innovator's Dilemma

Let's zoom in on a modern example: "The Innovator's Dilemma" by Clayton Christensen. This wasn't just a business book; it was a whole new way to see the world of business. Initially, it was like a secret weapon for the underdog entrepreneurs. But as it got popular, even the big guys in suits got the memo. Suddenly, everyone was talking about disruption, and the idea, well, it kind of lost its edge.

Consequences for Large Corporations

This isn't just about big companies jumping on the bandwagon. It's more like when your favorite indie band goes mainstream, and their next album sounds like elevator music. These big ideas get watered down to fit on a PowerPoint slide or a catchy slogan, and they lose that spark that made them special in the first place.

The Diminishing Returns of Popularity

So, here's the kicker: when an idea goes viral, in a way, it becomes a victim of its own success. It's no longer this cool, edgy thing; it's just part of the scenery. It's like when your secret beach spot gets discovered and turns into a tourist hotspot. Still nice, but not quite the hidden gem it once was.