"Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration."
—Thomas Alva Edison, American inventor (1847-1931)
Edison's light bulb, shining in a thought balloon, has become a universal symbol for one person suddenly seeing a better way to address a problem. As Edison's famous quotation suggests, one person having a good idea is one percent of the process of formulating new ways to manage water. The other 99% involves research to find the ideas that have already been suggested
Perspiration should be spent reviewing a standard list of generic alternatives, and in most American river basins, the many existing reports that present and evaluate specific alternatives. But there is room for inspiration, and all plan formulation efforts should include at least one real brainstorming session.
As you are generating alternatives, consider general alternatives and actions before delving into specific and detailed ones. Be creative, but recognize that any alternative will require collaboration and compromise. Here are some tips to enhance group productivity during meetings.
Now develop a strategy for adding detail and fine-tuning your alternatives. As you begin this process, indicate what information will be needed to define alternatives more completely? Would different evaluation criteria be used, as an alternative becomes more precisely defined? What level of analysis is appropriate at this stage?
Consider how you would ensure sufficient completeness in the screening stage. How would the alternative’s acceptability be estimated? Consider the metrics that you would have to include to monitor the effectiveness of the alternative in meeting the stated planning objectives.