I regularly ask this question on my ‘How to Have Better Ideas’ workshops (the sequel to ‘How to Have Ideas’). It’s a short question that triggers a wide range of answers. But the one I am looking for is this:
‘A good idea is one that meets the brief’
My aim is marrying up the brief and the idea. I want to emphasise that the two should match. If the idea doesn’t meet the brief, then we have three consequences:
- The idea is wrong- and needs working on;
- The brief is wrong – and needs working on; or
For me, design is the development of both the ideas and the brief until they exactly meet- until expectation and possibility meet and match. (This is a formulation of McCann’s Designer’s Paradox, which I wrote about here.)
How do I use these observations?
If you’ve drafted a few ideas, then look at your brief or list of requirements for the work. Which requirements does each idea meet, and which ones does it fail.
Does a good idea fail the requirements? Then maybe you’ve got the wrong requirements.
Does a bad idea pass the requirements? Then maybe you haven’t got enough requirements – what is it that you have discovered, the tacit factor that tells you that your idea isn’t good enough, that you need to add to your specification?