"Don't re-invent the wheel." It's said a lot. Almost too much maybe. The phrase is another way of stating "Hey, let's not make this harder than it needs to be." It's a way of suggesting to someone to re-think something, instead of doing a whole lot of work to ultimately come up with something that has already existed in some form or fashion to begin with.

Other times it comes in the form of re-purposing something in order to not have to build something up completely from scratch. Lots of times, this is necessary and very useful. But - are there times when "don't re-invent the wheel" is a phrase to disregard?

The other day at work, a group of us were brainstorming for a particular client project. We had come up with one main idea and as it turned out - the idea was one that had a strong chance to not be logistically feasible. In an effort to not re-invent the wheel, we tried to take the original idea, break it apart and tweak it to make it fit the required parameters.

Sure, we tweaked the idea. However, we got to a point to where we threw that original idea out the window and started from scratch. We decided that coming up with something completely different and awesome that also fit in the same budget allocated by the client was the best thing.

You know what? The ideas we came up with were better than our original one.

Starting From Scratch

This happened to me in college once in a campaign class. I was working on a campaign book for a class project and had worked a month on it. On a designated "work day," my professor walked by and saw my overall campaign idea....and shot it down. I sat there and tried to figure out how to re-work it. Eventually, I literally chucked it all into the trash and started completely over. Ultimately, I ended up with a much better presentation and scored a very high A.

There is merit to avoiding unnecessary work and working smarter, with greater efficiency. You never want to re-invent the wheel. However, to avoid re-inventing the wheel, it means throwing everything out and starting from scratch, with a fresh perspective.

What do you think?