That’s the question asked by Michael Wade (albeit rephrased in a more generic form).

And it’s a question that is often brought up. “If it’s such a good idea, why hasn’t it been done?” And something to that effect. And while it has it’s valid points, basing judgement on popularity isn’t always good.

Bad ideas can spread quickly if well marketed, but will probably not last long. Good ideas (if not marketed) might take longer to spread, but they will probably last longer. Either way, how common the idea is, whether it is done (if at all) doesn’t reflect whether the idea is good or bad.

To quote the book “Why Not?” by Barry J. Nalebuff and Ian Ayres, ‘[this] theme is also captured in the old joke about two University of Chicago economists going for a walk. One sees a twenty-dollar bill lying on the ground and starts to bend over and pick it up, but the other stops her, saying “It’s a counterfeit. If it were real, someone would have picked it up already.” Concluding that an idea must be flawed because it hasn’t already been done is rather like presuming any money on the sidewalk must be a fake.”

I think this “if it’s so good, why hasn’t it been done” negativism stems from the ‘status quo’ mentality society has instilled in us. We’ve become so train to accept the status quo that we start to think that anything outside the status quo, outside what we know, has to be a bad idea that will fail. And because of that (in conjunction with the fear of failure), we tend not to try new ideas.

What can we do? Learn to not be afraid of failure. Do what hasn’t been done before. That’s the only way progress can be made. Galileo discovered a fundamental fact of physics by merely dropping two objects from a tower. It might seem obvious, but nobody had thought of it before. Sometimes the obvious ideas haven’t been done. Or sometimes it’s not about the idea, but how the idea is used. Either way, be willing to do something different, something new; that’s how progress is made.