There’s something you need to know about me. I’m an idea man. I love new ideas and they are always coming to mind. It happens so often that I keep a small notebook with me so that I can jot ideas down or make a quick sketch of something that’s in my head. I got the idea from Adam Savage. I often will parooze back through my notebook every few days to see if anything stands out. Was it really a good idea, or was I wrapped up in a moment? Was I looking for a solution that works for me, or does this idea have broad applications? It’s an excellent litmus test for me and helps me to weed out my momentary tunnel vision.

Ideas can be powerful, especially when you are working on a unique or challenging project. When you get people together and collaborate on a project it can often exponentially increase the brain power (or idea generation quotient) of the group. I love seeing this in action, however there’s a downside that I mentioned before. If we’re not careful we can get tunnel vision and not think clearly about the problem we’re trying to solve, or the goal we’re trying to achieve.

Ideas have purpose and lead to internal ideals. These ideals are trying to solve a problem, or suite of problems. These ideals become part of our process. So, how do we balance the project needs with these ideals? The key would be in the word ‘balance’. How great is the problem we’re trying to solve? Does it require a greater solution? Is it overkill?

When collaborating, listen to your client. The know their audience. More importantly, they know their problems and how deeply they are troubled by them. Evaluate needs from their perspective, because need our expertise to help them.

As we solve problems and evaluate our ideals it comes down to balance. Yup, it’s tricky. In then end we need to look objectively at the problem and take a hard look at whether or not these ideals are justified given the context of the problem. Make recommendations, cite studies, do your best, but do it all in the context of the problem to solve.

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