Good idea fairy strikes when you least expect it

Good Idea Fairy is a mysterious creature that preys on gullible, out of touch and quickly impressed corporate leaders:

Not familiar with the Good Idea Fairy? The origin of the term is in the U.S. military and describes an evil, mythical creature that whispers advice and ideas into the ears of leadership, causing hundreds of unnecessary changes and countless wasted man-hours. The term may have it’s origin in the military, but sightings of the good idea fairy can happen anywhere faulty ideas enter the brains of leaders and decision makers. Think you’re immune? Ever completed a task on which you were inexperienced or confused? Do you have a hard time listening to advice or input from others? If so, then you are a likely candidate for a visit by the good idea fairy.

The Good Idea Fairy calls business executives and software architects all the time. It takes the form of different voices and introduces itself as sales or consultants from various vendors. There are entire companies dedicated to being good idea fairies, and they make a lot of money. I worked for a Good Idea Fairy company once, and I know how they work.

The Good Idea Fairy doesn’t need to be a vendor or a consultant. It can be an article at Gartner, InfoWorld, a trending post on Reddit, or a thread on Twitter. I know how this works — I wrote for InfoWorld.

Elephant Graveyards are honey pots for the Good Idea Fairy. A business executive, a developer, or an architect that finds themselves in an elephant graveyard simply has nothing better to do with their time than to listen to the Good Idea Fairy whispers. 

The Good Idea Fairy sometimes calls me, but I don’t pick up. Sometimes, the fairy leaves me voice messages. Other times it sends me emails. It calls my desk phone at the office, personal, and home phone. It finds me on LinkedIn.

The Good Idea Fairy tries to reach out to me all the time. It told me about data teleporation. Most of the time, the ideas it presents to me are solutions in search of problems.

I am the wrong Chief Architect for the Good Idea Fairy to prey upon. You see, I am a very practical and pragmatic Chief Architect. I know what I know, and I know what I don’t know. I solve problems by writing code — I have the background and the training to do that. I can see through the bullshit. 

As a general rule, I don’t pick up the phone from numbers I don’t recognize. I also don’t respond to unsolicited emails from vendors.

I can’t always avoid the Good Idea Fairy because it seems to find its way to my workday through indirect means. As an architect, the Good Idea Fairy visiting other leaders, developers, and architects is a colossal pain in my neck.

If the Good Idea Fairy does visit me indirectly, I ask, “What problem does your idea solve? Does my project have that problem?” A related question to ask should be: “Can we solve this problem with existing tools we have?” By the way, if the Good Idea Fairy asks for diagrams to see if my project has the problem they are trying to solve, it should be sent back to do their homework.

I set expectations and constraints. Once the project is underway and decisions have been made, barring unforeseen problems, there should be no room for the Good Idea Fairy. The Good Idea Fairy should know its time and place.


Featured image from Wikimedia Commons.