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The Organicity of Ideation

The motto of my secondary school was (and probably still is) “great oaks from little acorns grow.” This 14th century English proverb translates to “great things may come from small beginnings.”

My point?

Why am I taking you all the way back to Myers Grove Comprehensive? Because that is my sentiment on the ideas we generate for content. Young students can grow to be successful executives or professional athletes and ideas alike can be developed into impactful and emotional content.

lizziescreenshot1Not to get too flowery on you but, ideas are the seeds of content. They are organic and free flowing. In the right environment any idea (good or bad) can be manipulated and grown to be something great; conversely it can be stunted, crushed and killed by an individual saying “that’s not a good idea.”

What makes a good content idea?

“Good” is subjective and at the end of the day it’s only the decision maker’s opinion that matters. With that in mind there are a couple key components that an idea must have to give it a fighting chance of survival online:


Strong ideas for content are timely. By keeping your finger on the pulse of the news and setting up industry based RSS feeds you will be able to tie your idea to trending topics.  Yesterday’s news is old news and unless you’re looking to make a link with nostalgia, you need to keep it relevant.


Your idea must make people feel. If the audience doesn’t have an emotional reaction to your idea then in all likelihood the content will be eternally ineffective. Before sitting down at the idea table we take a look at Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotion and ask ourselves and/or the client which emotions we want to evoke and which we want to avoid.

CPWheelHow Do You Grow an Idea?

No one wants to hear that they have an ugly baby, but it is very rare that your original idea is the best one. When you sit down to brainstorm you need to be open to new possibilities and be flexible with change. Here are a few points that will help you ease into growing and developing ideas:

  • Allow your mind play with ideas
  • Don’t be critical to yourself or anyone else during ideation
  • Use other people’s ideas to stimulate your own (piggybacking)
  • Take risks
  • Know when to take a break

Are Awesome Ideas Enough?

Unfortunately many awesome ideas have shriveled up and died. (Speaking of which, what ever happened to green tomato ketchup?) An idea can die because of several reasons, but most often neglect. A great content idea once fully developed still needs to be cultivated during production. Solid ideas need to be put in the right hands. Giving your strongest idea to your weakest writer/designer would just be a waste and wouldn’t do it justice. Conversely, your best writer/designer can’t turn dirt into gold.

The Potential of Any Idea

In college I was taught that there’s no such thing as a bad idea, I believe that to be untrue. There are plenty of terrible ideas; putting horse meat in lasagna, sleeping with your best friend’s spouse, taking candy from strangers or applying for a job when your Facebook profile picture features you holding some kind of big gun.


I could go on all day.

What I do believe is that every idea has the potential to evolve and be better. That’s the wonder of an idea, a thought, and a whim. If allowed, it can be its own living, breathing organism that can grow as far as you can stretch your imagination.

For more insight and help with ideation check out our community ideation guide.

About the author

Lizzie Seedhouse