Based in Sydney, Australia, Foundry is a blog by Rebecca Thao. Her posts explore modern architecture through photos and quotes by influential architects, engineers, and artists.

Why Your Original Idea Really Isn't That Original

in 1922 sociologists William Ogburn and Dorothy Thomas documented 148 examples of ideas that where thought of by two or more people at the same time, completely unconnected from each other. These inventions and discoveries, going all the back to the 1600's, include things like oxygen, the radio, sun spots, logarithms, the law of conservation of energy, and many others. Sir Francis Bacon touched on this phenomenon as well when he wrote the following:

Science will level mens wits and leave but little for individual excellence
— Francis Bacon

He knew the course of scientific discovery had something to do with a form of inevitability. That is, science would come in it's due time, being less about individual genius, and more about culture and general advancements. To bring it down to a very crude example, think of it this way: there was no need for science and research on graphical user interface until the invention of the PC and the mouse. One idea required the other to be invented. In retrospect, it seems inevitable. Robert K Merton explores the idea as well in his book, Sociology of Science, coming to the same conclusions as Ogburn, Thomas, and Bacon. Inventions and ideas become inevitable as knowledge, culture, and need reach critical mass.

So what does this mean for creatives, entrepreneurs, leaders, and innovators?

It means something very simple: it is quite likely that at least one other person is working on the very same idea as you right now. That original idea you have probably isn't that original. As Gary Vaynerchuck says, "ideas are nice, but execution is the game." There is no success in a great idea alone. We've got to become exceptional at turning ideas into products, services, and advancements. That's what really matters. So if you've got a great idea, you better get to it before someone else does.

Execute, execute, execute. Details, details, details.

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