EDIT: Per Ivan Malik (http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1348744&postcount=25)
I mis-attributed the quote I’m using in this thread. I’ve reworded the post as such.
I read a quote last fall which struck me:
“An idea is nothing more or less than a new combination of old elements. The capacity to bring old elements into new combinations depends largely on the ability to see relationships.”
This quote, which apparently is now so far removed from its original context (per Ivan) as to not be related, still made me think. This post represents my thought process upon hearing the out of context quote, as applied to my thinking towards FRC. I don’t know the original context (I intend to go read up on that) nor are these thoughts based on the original context. The quote I read simply served as a seed for the thoughts below:
At the time, I vehemently disagreed with this concept, but since then I’ve come to appreciate that there is a lot of truth in it. While of course I agree there is still some very novel ideation occurring in the world, the vast majority of the things we typically consider innovations are really just combinations of old ideas.
In my opinion, this is especially true in FRC. (Let’s face it, we’re not doing any bleeding edge research and development here.)
My perspectives on ideation have really shifted since I’ve started meditating on this.
While every so often teams come up with very very very cool, and novel ideas – these ideas themselves can usually be broken down into the pieces which inspired them. Mostly these ideas come from the “real” world. Often these ideas come from past FRC robots. Sometimes these ideas come from CURRENT FRC robots.
There has been a lot of talk this year about teams “copying” designs. Lots of teams claiming “original” ideas. I guess from my new perspective… we’re all copying. All of us.
In general, people are very bad about understanding the nature of ideation and the creative process. This is probably why one of the most common questions for creative people is: “How did you think of that?” It is also why most creative people are terrible at answering that question.
Sure, there are novel and innovative combinations of ideas. Relationships between ideas that maybe most teams won’t think of. Tradeoffs which some teams make that other teams disagreed with for one reason or another during the build season.
This doesn’t bother me at all. What bothers me is that many of us are straight up lying to ourselves about where ideas come from. In the heat of the season, it is rare that anyone tracks where ideas come from, even rarer when they get traced back to the source.
I think it is silly when teams say “We came up with this idea on our own.” What does that even mean? Are you even sure? Who said the idea in your meeting? Do you know what in that person’s past gave them the idea?
Of course – if you do know where an idea came from it is always nice to provide attribution!
If you don’t know (for sure) where an idea came from… you may want to acknowledge (at least to yourself) that we get ideas from all over the place, and it probably is more influenced by outside factors than you realize.
Something to meditate on.