The Regression Theory of Ideas, The Multiplier Effect And Creative Innovation

Hall, Sean. 2014. The Regression Theory of Ideas, The Multiplier Effect And Creative Innovation. The WEI International Academic Conference Proceedings October 19-22, 2014 in New Orleans, USA, pp. 178-186. [Article]

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The value of brilliant ideas is often disputed. According to some authors, brilliant ideas are cheap and easy to produce, plentiful, and virtually worthless (at least, unless acted upon). (Fried and Hansson, 2010: 38) (Kaufman, 2010: 62) (Sivers, 2009) But are they right? It will be my contention, in contrast to this rather negative view, that brilliant ideas are expensive, difficult to produce, rare in terms of their quality, and very valuable. In fact, I shall maintain that they matter not just to businesses, but also to the creative industries, and to institutions, governments, and individuals. In making this argument I will rely on what I shall refer to as the regression theory of ideas. The regression theory of ideas says that ideas regress towards the mean in terms of their quality, value and importance. This means that when we assess large numbers of ideas we should expect a few to be brilliant, some to be good, the majority to be rather ordinary, many to be so-so, a significant number to be weak, and some to be completely hopeless. If the regression theory that I advance is right, then, brilliant ideas, due not least to their rarity, should be viewed as being of great value, not just economically, but politically, and also, of course, socially. So although in the final analysis whilst I will end up agreeing with Derek Sivers’s well-known claim that ideas are what he calls “multipliers” (i.e. that their value is connected with their execution), I will draw a very different conclusion to him, viz. that there is a practical two-way interdependence between ideas and their execution and that this means that ideas themselves are not, as he contends, virtually valueless in monetary terms. In fact, brilliant ideas are vital to improving the world in all manner of ways because they can multiply and enhance economic, political and social value. And, what is more, if ideas are unique they are able to keep and retain their value as multipliers, even if they have not been executed. Ideas represent a form of stored value that can be used either in the present or later when they are really needed.

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Ideas, Innovation, Creativity, Social Value

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19 October 2014Accepted
22 October 2014Published

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Date Deposited:

27 Apr 2017 08:42

Last Modified:

23 Jun 2020 10:11

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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