Wow – that is a seriously difficult question, I was asked on Quora today. Difficult because we obviously see what those ideas do, who had them, and how they evolved. Still “Where do the best business ideas come from” in the first place?

The short answer to where best ideas come from

This question bugged me for quite some time and two years ago I started a quest to find out. The short answer:
Ideas obviously come from our brain.
1) The brain composes new ideas based on all our past experiences.
2) Past experiences include everything we saw, heard, experienced from the day our brain is built – even before we are born.
3) Most ideas are actually not killed by naysayer but by our brain itself.
4) The composition of “ideas” is actually a composition of experiences where our right brain(emotional, creative…) puts experiences together and sends it to the left brain logic, security… If it makes no immediate sense the composition or “idea” is dismissed. That is important because in real live we need to decide quickly to not get eaten by a big animal (last 300,000 years), or overrun by a car (last 100 years).
5) With the fast, secure,conservative, instantly attractive or not composition we can easily live well but we cannot innovate. Innovation requires another part of our brain and that is the ability to construct a possible future. So brainstorming (short term) and prospective thinking collide.
6) The best business ideas come when we put the problem in context to a prospective future. The so called visionar can put both together and craft a business model that is not built to be relevant for today but for that future. Visionaries are not sci fi lovers because they love the future. Sci Fi lovers love the future and get so much inspired that they become visionaries. And Sci Fi authors get inspired from previous sci fi authors.
7) Still the best business idea is not coming from this one dreamer who makes up an idea for the future. There is this second key component: the idea of the market, customers, users… Asking clients, what they dream abut and what their best possible solution would be and assembling all these experiences to one and THEN dream up to sum of all dreams allows people with lots of those and other experiences to steer up a idea that moves and shakes markets.

Know how the brain works

If you know how the brain works you get a huge leap in understanding how ideas are created and as a result how disruptive models can be created. We experienced that in our own companies and most recently in companies (startups) we worked with. We had a 50% success rate in developing a disruptive business model for the startups we worked with in the past 3 years.

The long answer is in my new book: Innovations Paradigm.
Before I ended up with finding the source of an idea, I analyzed what the idea actually does and its role in the success of an innovation. First, the idea alone is of no value. Only with relentless execution, the value of the idea will be unfold. An apple is of no value unless somebody eats it or it’s seed creates a new apple tree. Stanford neuroscientist David Eagleman played a key role in my statement: “We can do anything and everything we can imagine”. Now it’s scientifically proven. It’s because of the limitation of our brain :)

How about sharing how you created your best ideas?