The Three Stages of an Idea

The Three Stages of an Idea

By Rajesh Setty on Sun 28 Jun 2009, 11:41 AM – 20 Comments


All of us get MANY new ideas everyday. Majority of these ideas will never see the light of the day.They die in our minds. But, some ideas we choose to pursue. How do we determine which ones to kill and which ones to pursue? It’s a million dollar question, really.

Here is one model to think about what makes you pursue some ideas and what makes you abandon most of them. At each stage, there are a few attributes that become VERY important – so I have chosen to include a short note with each of the attributes in various stages.

So, here is that simple model:

1.Think: This is where you are bouncing off many ideas and determining which ones to pick

The focus attributes in this stage are:

Curiosity: Curiosity moves you from the sidelines right into the arena. It’s an entry ticket to the playing field. Without curiosity, you are a mere spectator.

Connection: You may be curious about many things but not all of them you will connect with so much that you want to spend your time, energy, money and other resources to pursue them. For example, you might think of a new kind of crib or a baby stroller but you just may not connect with the idea enough to do anything about that brilliant idea.

Conviction: You make a deeper connection when you feel it in your gut. That’s when conviction comes in. You just know that this is something that you want to make it happen.

2. Tinker: This is where you have zeroed in on one or two ideas to pursue. You are now mobilizing the resources to pursue those ideas.

The focus attributes in this stage are:

Challenge: You know it takes time, energy, money and other resources to make this work. You know it’s not going to be easy. You know that the odds are stacked up against you. You know that you may not get all the support to make this work. Yes, you know lots of things might go wrong and still, you are willing to face the challenge and pursue that idea.

Courage: You are bold enough to take the first step – this is where the rubber meets the road.

Capacity: You are able to convince enough people to build the capacity now and in the future to make this idea a reality.

3. Take Off: This is where you are off to the races with the chosen ideas.

The focus attributes in this stage are:

Creativity: Things won’t happen the way you planned out. That happens only in the movies. In real life, it’s all above “improv” – real-time re-adjustments and adaptations. You have the creativity (within yourself or within the team that you have put together) to keep the momentum going.

Change: You are not only for change but you look forward to it. You welcome it. Change is the name of the game for any idea to go from a concept to reality and you have to be able to embrace it with grace.

Commitment: You are committed to the see this through and it shows up everyday in your words and actions.

I wish you the very best with those ideas that you plan to pursue and make them a reality!


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20 Comments so far, Add Yours

Venkk  on June 28th, 2009

Great Post Rajesh, Thanks. I also happen to believe Creativity is an inherent component in all of the three stages.



Rajesh Setty  on June 28th, 2009

Thank you Venkk. Yes, there is a lot of overlap in these stages. I made a list for each stage and picked the top three (in my opinion) for that stage.

Have a great week ahead.



borisglants  on June 28th, 2009

Hi Rajesh,

Great post! I noticed in your comment that you mentioned that each attribute is present during all the stages from thinking of an idea to take off. What struck me is that for each person certain attributes are more important than others and those are a reflection of their personalities and the stage in life they are in. For instance right now I know that without conviction none of the other C’s would make a difference in the final outcome of the ideas I choose to pursue. Yet for other people it may be the Challenge – the dare to do what hasn’t been done – that’s more important than anything else in the idea. Curious to hear what C is a deal breaker for you and why.

Rajesh Setty  on June 28th, 2009

Thank you Boris,

You are right that every person will view things slightly differently.

For me personally, it is “capacity” to execute. So many ideas come to me and so many cool people around me pitch new ideas almost every week.

The only thing I look for is do we have a structure (capacity) to execute on them. If not, e can keep talking about it endlessly and it will be of no use.

Have a great week ahead.



Javier Rincón  on June 29th, 2009

Hi Rajesh,

Great post. I actually believe that most of the times, the individual will have to go through the Take-off stage before being able to acquire much capacity through other people.

It´s once the ball is rolling that you will be able to unite a group of people around you (most of the time).



Rajesh Setty  on June 29th, 2009


Yes I agree. However, the more capacity and support you build early, the easier your journey will be.

Have a great week ahead.



Terrence Seamon  on June 29th, 2009

Nice. I like it.

Many ideas never get past Think. Then, months later, you read or hear that someone else invented what you had thought of.


Rajesh Setty  on June 29th, 2009

Thank you Terrence. You are right we are “stuck” in either “Think” and sometimes in “Tinker” stages.

Since ideas are not “owned” by anyone, there are probably a large number of people who have got the same ideas that we have got.

Whoever executes best will win!!



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alex  on June 29th, 2009

Thanks for the post. I need to remember to be more committed to my ideas. Thanks for reminding me of that Rajesh!

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Rajesh Setty  on June 30th, 2009


You are very welcome. Wish you the very best as you run with your ideas.



Rohitaash  on July 2nd, 2009

Good article Rajesh –

I would like to highlight the importance of curiosity among all three.

It is a big differentiater for variety of reasons.


Tinkering and Taking off without ample curiosity is not a sign of present or future greatness.

“Real Men of the “Real” world for ex. head of a country, or business, or a dictator or mafia head or a religious head has the capacity to deliver for themselves and their sons and daughters, have the courage to take the next steps and perhaps can be ruthlessly committed to their cause too but they may not have the curiosity to let their convictions challenged, their decisions analyzed or Long term impact of their actions thought through.

Needless to say, in so many instances where marketplace is dynamic as is the case with top political posts or stardom, etc. success remains elusive or early successes are lost quickly to changing dynamics of marketplace.


Curiosity is all wannabe startups have and need.

They usually lack capacity to execute however its not because they can not get to money. Rather its their inability to clearly understand the dynamics of marketplace and their fear of constantly shifting preferences of their target market. In short, they are not able to clearly identify the “customer experience” differentiater that their product or service can bring to the marketplace.

But for those who can offer a clear vision and execution strategy for a better customer experience, money will line up!


Curiosity helps us create a better world for ourselves and others.

It explains why America has been and still is prospering and India has been and still is promising!

The real brain drain of india is not that people from best of institutes are coming to USA but that people with potential for curiosity are able to fulfill their potential in this country whereas in india its rarely encouraged. In india people feel comfort in doing things the way they have always done it.

Curiosity not only leads to better world for an individual, business, organization or country, its absolutely must for sustaining that world as well.

Abundance of curiosity prevents decays and allows for corrections. The opening up of minds to higher awareness of our thoughts and actions lead the marketplace to a better experience of products and services and businesses that do not align with marketplace or lose alignment somewhere down the line, die down slowly – one recent example is GM, one future example is tobacco companies, etc.



Founder, IT Apps LLC – Thought leadership for excellence in customer experience

Founder, NRIs for INdia – Thought Leadership for a stronger India.

Farr-Out Links to Learning » Blog Archive » July 3 – Top 10  on July 2nd, 2009

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Jake Rhodes  on July 5th, 2009

Excellent insight into the workings behind a complete idea. I like to write screenplays in my spare time and my thought pattern is very similar when coming up with a story idea to that which you mention.

Vicente  on July 6th, 2009

In my own opinion, ideas are came from the experiences that we’ve took in our life’s journey. Thank you for sharing those tips and illustration about idea. I’ll keep reading your blogs.Keep it up!

Rajesh Setty  on July 6th, 2009


Thank you. Here is an earlier article about generating new ideas. It’s called “10 Ideas to Get New Ideas.”



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Orik Ibad  on November 28th, 2009

I like the points you make. I also have my own thinking moel. I let my subconsious to create ideas (nights are good for this). I note them to the paper (it is important) and oganize them. Finally, create plan to realize this plan.

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