Larry Price

And The Endless Cup Of Coffee

Good Idea, Bad Idea

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There is a general, unnamed rule when coming up with ideas:

A person is required to have one or more bad ideas before having a single good idea.

Since this rule is unnamed, it shall henceforth be referred to as Larry’s Law.

Note that the thinker in question is not limited to just one bad idea under Larry’s Law, but as many as he so desires. Also note that Larry’s Law does not imply that the thinker will necessarily ever have any good ideas.

Having bad ideas is necessary. Bad ideas let the brain see what it shouldn’t be thinking about, which has the potential to lead to good ideas. Then again, many bad ideas may just spawn more bad ideas. That’s just Larry’s Law.


You sit down at your desk and pick up a bug. Your first idea doesn’t fix the code. Your second idea doesn’t compile. Your third idea breaks all 3400 unit tests in the test suite. Your fourth idea is a complete hack. Your fifth idea breaks some other component of the application. Your sixth idea seems genius to you but doesn’t survive the code review. Your seventh idea is a winner.

Before Edison could invent the Universal Stock Ticker, he had to invent a crummy vote recorder.

Do you have any idea the number of albums Pink Floyd released before The Dark Side of the Moon? Seven. Don’t kid yourself: these seven albums were not gems. But don’t fret! Larry’s Law states that these albums had to be low quality to allow The Dark Side of the Moon to be a monumental album.

Someone invented New Coke. This is an instance of someone making a bad decision without any corresponding good decisions.

Domino’s pizza was terrible until very recently. Now it’s delicious, at least according to this man on Yahoo! Answers.

A group of people wants to go out to eat. Jon Doe will suggest Jimmy John’s, then Penn Station, McDonald’s, Five Guys, Taco Bell, and Denny’s. Finally Jon Doe offers a reasonable idea, like YATS. This process will now be repeated by every person in the group, and the best decision will never become visible. And Larry’s Law specifies that the group may never come to a good decision, and will probably end up eating at Five Guys.


The next time you have a bad idea, embrace it. Realize that having that bad idea might clear space in your head for a good idea. Or possibly an infinite number of bad ideas. Either way, that’s just Larry’s Law.