when ideas don’t create ripples

the-ripple-effectIdeas spreading are often compared to the ripples when a stone is thrown into a still pond. But not all ponds are water, and not all things you can throw are stones. The pool can be thick, embracing mud and your idea can sink without trace. Your idea can be a feather and make not a mark, or a lump of phosphorus and all hell break loose when it hits the water. At times, your idea can be thrown into the sea, a tumult such that a ripple wouldn’t even make the wishlist.

And other times, what for me is not an idea becomes an idea for you. This is what has just happened in my Linked In systems group. I shared the video of my 20×21 presentation  on systems thinking at my work. For me that was the end of that. Presentation prepared, delivered, shared. End of action. But my friends have turned it into an idea! They were fascinated by the form more than the substance and then Helen suggested that the group might make a You Tube library of 20x21s reflecting systems thinking in each of our different work situations. Watch this space… I hope to be able to share those with you.

It really made me think about the nature of ideas (again). With hindsight, certain ideas do do that ripple thing and, looking backwards, it seems that that is a kind of natural thing that ideas do. But that is because looking backwards, the ones that fell on mud or in the sea, the feather-ideas and the phosphorus ideas can’t be seen. Thinking about my work and how we try to “disseminate” and “transfer” ideas, information and good practices, it reminded me that:

  • ideas come from social interactions and cannot be handed on like a stone
  • ideas have their own relevance depending on where you are right now in your own, special context
  • that’s why if you want creative, innovative good ideas, it is best to get a group of varied people together and always some people from the context you are talking about


  1. Roger Schoenhals · · Reply

    I am interested in using the image of the ripple on the water you use with this posting. Is it a copyrighted imagine or in the public domain? If it belongs to you, may I have permission to use it as part of a eBook cover? Thanks. roger@papathree.com

    1. Roger
      I picked it up off the internet. I suspect i searched for “ripple effect”. I believe and hope it is in the public domain. Bests.

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