Opinion: Smart Idea != Good Solution (mostly)

“Hey, come, have a look I came up with something very smart.” 

My eyes start glowing and I become happy like a little child that discovered a shiny rock.
While that excitement is important, it keeps me motivated, that feeling is also a warning sign. My “Smart Ideas” are 99 out of 100 times, not the optimal solution. I’d like to share a few reasons here.

1) Not learning from others

I’d say (almost) everything I’m doing has been done by someone way smarter than me before. The chance of me coming up with a genuinely unique idea is quite low. If my idea has not been done by others and deemed as good, it’s (almost) always a bad idea.

2) Keep it simple

Some of my smart ideas are too smart for my own good and end up overcomplicating things. I try to avoid complicated solutions as much as possible. Complicated solutions often scale badly and even worse, are hard to understand down the line. Not only by me but also by others.

I might understand that gigantic Flow or that smart APEX hack today, but what in 5 months, what in 2 years?

3) Risky

Smart ideas are risky since not much experience exists. For solutions done by many others before, lots of experience about pitfalls exist. I’d like to carefully manage risk, only apply where necessary.

4) High effort

Since smart, unique ideas not have been done before I’ve had to think about everything myself. While it’s more fun, it also takes time and effort. Tried and tested solutions are often easy to implement. So, what do I do with smart ideas?

1) Is there a simpler solution?
2) How do others do it?
3) What do people with more experience think about my smart idea?
4) Can I easily explain it to a friend?

Topics I’m definitely never smart about:

1) Data Models:

Almost every data model I’m designing has been done many times before by others. Often an industry-standard exists which I just have to follow. Maybe a little tweaking here and there. 

2) Architecture Concepts:

Absolutely no smart ideas there! I follow the lead of people a million times smarter than me. I stand on the shoulders of giants.

3) Documents and Artifacts:

Everything document or artifact has been perfect ionized by others before and is usually for free available as a template.

4) UI/UX concepts

Never, ever, ever I’m trying to be smart there.

5) Coding

Oh god, never about coding. I’m way too bad at it.

IMPORTANT: Don’t stop trying things, don’t stop innovating but be mindful about it.

PS: In the last 6 years I had two ideas that turned out to be kind of smart. One of them was actually unique. Everything else wasn’t smart.