Picture of John Purdie-Smith
John Purdie-Smith

Once upon a time...

Having gained undergraduate degrees in accounting and marketing and then honours and post-graduate degrees in marketing, I ran out of excuses for prolonging my university lifestyle and grudgingly took a job in sales. As my education in the ways and means of business progressed, I was surprised to discover that it was possible to enjoy working for a living as well, especially if I managed to sell something. I observed others successfully 'closing the sale' (I was even picking up the jargon), and saw how occasionally a good idea boosted business success enormously. On some occasions, I was able to profitably adapt a 'great idea' to a situation I faced. These ideas were somehow magical, because something unusually favourable was achieved, out of all proportion to the effort invested.

...and along came Sebir...

Eventually I came to refer to these innovative ideas as Sebirs, the term 'Sebir' being a loose acronym for 'Small effort: big result'. With my evolving interest, I had gradually started recording, collecting and filing such ideas – that is, 'Sebirs' – where a small amount of effort somehow generated a much larger, beneficial result.

"Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen." John Steinbeck 1902-1968, Author

Although not then conscious of a potential underlying methodology, I was developing an intuition about how such ideas worked and over time began to draw from aspects of that intuition to achieve some unexpectedly good results as the leader of some challenging projects.

These included:

Basically I drew increasingly upon my library of Sebirs, finding a relevant one and adapting it to resolve a particular challenge I faced. But I soon realized that I wasn't really doing anything new here because many well-known innovations in history came about through 'mental association', or 'associational thinking', when someone was inspired – usually by accident – to put together two previously unrelated thoughts to create something entirely new. I was 'associating' and breeding from the previous insights of others. But, with a repository of ideas to draw upon, I could suppress the accidental element.

Ultimately, as I came to understand more about having ideas 'by association', I developed a rudimentary method of classifying those I had accumulated so that it was easier to find a relevant idea that I could associate and breed from.

[Well-known examples of Sebirs created by mental association are illustrated and explained on this website in the Sebir Demonstrator.]

From this point on, I began to think about how I could make this knowledge available to others and created Sebir.com.

However, in spite of the impressive vault of Sebirs I had accumulated over many years, I had to concede that my knowledge about how and why they worked was general at best. For instance, although I could now almost instantaneously recognize a genuine Sebir by the unmistakable innovative value created between effort and result, I fell short of any sort of theory to explain what was happening. And, more specifically, why did some Sebirs display a large innovative value gap between effort invested and result achieved whereas others displayed a much smaller gap?

Ideally therefore, I needed to expose the factors that drove the innovative value gap. On my side, this would mean classifying Sebirs in micro detail in terms of their anatomical make-up and isolating the elements that determined how much innovative value was created. From the point of view of the innovative idea seeker, this would mean identifying the criteria that determine the specific relevance of any particular Sebir to someone's circumstances and rating every Sebir quantitatively against such relevancy criteria.

Seeking to address these issues required some serious research. This was undertaken in 2014 and continued for almost six years. As a result of that research, I now have a reasonable theory to explain how Sebirs generate an innovative value gap between effort and result with the elements identified incorporated in algorithms that re-produce that value gap.

Additionally, the 'innovative DNA' of a typical Sebir has been established and a MasterClass Hierarchical Database and proprietary Sebir Rating Algorithm enable quantitative definition of the specific relevance of every Sebir against more than 600 relevancy criteria.

Finally, the whole project needed to be easily scalable. Such micro treatment of innovative ideas and the potential variations thereof, generates a 'Sebir Count' currently in the hundreds of thousands but that will move into the millions. This has necessitated the design of some smart software.

Ultimately, the capability whereby accumulated, successful Sebirs from all over the world can be located according to their relevance and adapted to breed completely new Sebirs, is now available on this website via the Sebir Selector.

...and the Sebir story continues...

In undertaking the research into Sebirs, I couldn't resist the vision of being able to create a Sebir from scratch, without the need for a source Sebir to breed from. Could you invent them? How could you create useful Sebirs from scratch when you wanted one?

"Yes, the solution seems to work, it appears to be correct; but how is it possible to invent such a solution?" George Polya 1887-1985, Hungarian Mathematician

Accordingly, I pushed the boundaries of the research I was doing to ensure that the detailed analysis of Sebirs I undertook established a platform for eventual synthesis of Sebirs.

This work has been completed and is capable of being converted into an interactive, online learning tool – the Sebir Ladder – that can be used by anyone. This tool is currently under development.

Site Credits

This website was designed by The Broad Reform & developed by iP Edge.