How to Create New Ideas has been a common question people ask in every aspect of life. Creativity is not merely a gift bestowed upon a select few; it’s a skill that can be cultivated through consistent effort. Often, we’re asked how we maintain a steady flow of fresh ideas for our clients. Do we ever face creative blocks? The answer is a resounding no! In this article, we will explore ways to cultivate new ideas.
Creativity doesn’t sprout from stagnant surroundings. To cultivate novel ideas, your mind needs stimuli from the world beyond. Dedicate moments to activities that encourage your brain to see things differently by immersing it in new settings.
An easy lunchtime stroll, a weekend museum visit, or a bustling shopping center excursion can all invigorate your creative faculties.
Demystifying Idea Generation
But what exactly is idea generation? It’s the art of conjuring and cherry-picking solutions to specific quandaries. Nevertheless, in the realm of crafting new products, the objective of idea generation shifts towards addressing customer woes.
Indeed, every groundbreaking product starts its journey as a mere idea. Therefore, if there’s one aspect of innovation that merits our utmost diligence, it’s the realm of idea generation. Yet, the concept of “idea generation” often appears as a nebulous constituent in the ambiguous frontiers of creativity. Why all the facilitators, Nerf guns, and pipe cleaners? Is this a game for adults, for children, or perhaps for both? How far is too far?
Could it be that we ought to perceive idea generation through a more somber lens? As a bona fide business process? The answer is a resounding “yes.” At the very least, that’s a commendable starting point.
Idea Generation: A Systematic Process
In truth, idea generation unfolds as a meticulously structured process—a formal conduit for idea birthing. It encompasses two distinct phases: divergence and convergence. The divergent phase ushers in a period of suspended judgment, where “all ideas are welcome.” On the other hand, the convergent phase materializes as the moment for discerning judgment, when the finest ideas are handpicked for further progression.
The Quandary of Idea Generation Clarified
The perplexity surrounding idea generation emerges from the simultaneous validity of multiple aspects. Undoubtedly, it is a serious and methodical business process. Yet, it remains equally true that playful elements amplify creative potential. Striking a balance between these facets becomes paramount, for straying too far in either direction can be detrimental. Nerf guns and pipe cleaners, if not wielded judiciously, might devolve into distractions. Conversely, excessive solemnity within idea generation can extinguish participants’ enthusiasm and stifle their productivity.
How to Foster Innovation
The secret lies in nurturing and sustaining habits in our daily lives that keep our minds brimming with an endless reservoir of brilliant ideas.
Motivation – Mind – Success – Thinking – Productivity – Happiness. Here are some habits we have come to rely on:
“Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
When you collaborate with someone on a problem, it challenges your preconceptions, igniting diverse thought processes and fresh ideas. Contributions from others open up new avenues for expanding these ideas.
We find it beneficial to surround ourselves with trusted friends and colleagues who have a track record of success. Consider taking it a step further by forming a small “mastermind” group where each member takes turns discussing chosen topics, fostering collective exploration.
2. A Precise Problem: The Genesis of Idea Generation
Let’s commence with the cornerstone of idea generation – a meticulously framed problem. Without this foundational block, our ideas would wander aimlessly, akin to a scattered flock of birds with no guide. A well-defined problem anchors our creative endeavors.
Furthermore, when we articulate a problem, it serves as the spark igniting creativity and analytical thinking. The moment our brains confront a problem, they set to work on deciphering it, a process that’s not easily halted.
Navigating the Problem’s Depth
In the journey of problem definition, it’s crucial to ascertain the appropriate problem depth. Dr. Min Basadur devised the “Why? / What’s stopping?” technique for this purpose. The “Why” query unveils broader issues, while “What’s stopping you?” hones in on narrower concerns.
For instance, envision a company specializing in office chairs. Initially, the team might perceive the problem as “Customers find office chairs uncomfortable.” When we delve deeper by asking, “What’s stopping customers from being comfortable in office chairs?” narrower problem statements emerge, such as customers not adjusting lumbar support correctly, sitting for extended periods, or feeling confined.
Depending on our goals, the problem statement can be broad, like “How can we enhance customers’ productivity in office chairs?” or narrow, like “How can we ensure customers correctly adjust lumbar support?” The selection hinges on the intended focus. Remember, investing time in crafting the right problem statement is paramount; the quality of your idea generation hinges upon it.
Additionally, acquiring insights into the problem’s root through “Voice of the Customer” activities is indispensable in the idea generation process.
3. Share What You Consume
Exposing yourself to valuable ideas is only half the battle. To extract the most value from what you consume, share these ideas with others. After reading an intriguing article, engage in a discussion, write a blog post, or condense it into a tweet. Sharing helps you absorb the idea more deeply.
By conveying a thought you’ve consumed through various means — speaking, writing, summarizing — you internalize it, learn more from it, remember it better, and gain a deeper understanding. All of these aspects increase the likelihood of unlocking new ideas in the future. Business – Money Making – Marketing – Ecommerce.
4. Navigating the Terrain of Idea Generation: Divergence and Convergence
Idea generation entails a journey through two distinct terrains: divergence and convergence. While these terms may sound daunting, their concepts are familiar.
Consider dining at a restaurant, perusing the menu to select your lunch – this simple task mirrors the idea generation process. You commence with divergence, exploring a plethora of menu options. Then, you converge by choosing your meal.
The Divergent Odyssey
Divergence embodies expansion and inclusivity. During this phase, judgment takes a backseat, allowing ideas to flourish freely. We cast a wide net, welcoming all possibilities. Dan Adams, founder of AIM, emphasizes that divergence aids in avoiding errors of omission. To attain the best ideas, we must amass a multitude of options. Quantity breeds quality.
The essence of divergence is encapsulated in the phrase “all ideas are good ideas.” During this stage, participants are encouraged to contribute ideas and build upon others’ suggestions, free from the shadow of judgment and devoid of intimidation or derision.
The Convergent Crossroads
Convergence, however, is the junction where judgment regains prominence. This phase serves as a filter to prevent the selection of suboptimal ideas. The idea generation process bifurcates into divergence, where ideas are generated abundantly, and convergence, where the finest concepts are chosen for advancement.
5. Unshackling Creativity: The Role of Killer Phrases
Within the divergent phase of idea generation, it’s vital to shelve judgment entirely. Participants often unknowingly interject “judgment” in subtle ways, hampering creativity.
For instance, when a new idea emerges, someone might counter with phrases like:
- We attempted that last year.
- It mirrors our existing product.
- Competitors experimented with it, and it failed.
- Implementation might pose challenges.
- It could be time-consuming.
- It’s a good idea, but…
These are known as “killer phrases,” laden with judgment. If permitted during divergence, they stifle the spirit of idea generation. Health books, guides, exercises, habits, Diets, and more.
Bridling the Impact of Killer Phrases
Killer phrases can alienate participants, leading to a collective loss. As a fundamental part of the idea generation process, it’s advisable to compile a list of such detrimental phrases to avoid.
Dr. Basadur suggests displaying a list of killer phrases during divergence, prohibiting their use. Examples include:
- Too complex to administer
- Our traditional approach has proven effective for years.
- It’s ahead of its time.
- Let’s defer action for a while.
- It’s not within our budget.
- It seems intricate.
- We should opt for a more practical solution.
- We’ve never attempted anything like that before.
Divergence is a skill on its own, and so is convergence. Remarkably, individuals possess distinct problem-solving styles. Some gravitate toward divergence, while others lean toward convergence. A harmonious blend of both styles is ideal within a team.
6. Change Your Thinking Environment
While routines are helpful for building habits, don’t hesitate to shake things up when it comes to idea generation. Instead of setting a specific time for brainstorming, allow yourself to do it at various times and in different places.
Creativity doesn’t always strike at your desk; it can emerge in the shower, during a walk, while driving, or even while doing the dishes. Varying your thinking environment can yield a wider variety and higher quality of ideas.
7. Convergence: Balancing Impact and Effort
While most of the preceding rules emphasized the divergence phase of idea generation, convergence ultimately takes center stage. This is when the selection of the most promising ideas, the ones that will be pursued, transpires.
During this critical stage, it is imperative to establish criteria for evaluating ideas. Two of the most pivotal factors are Impact and Effort. “Impact” signifies the effectiveness of an idea in addressing the problem, while “Effort” measures the energy and time required for its execution.
To visually conceptualize this, crafting a substantial “Impact vs. Effort” chart is invaluable. The team can then place each idea on this chart, primarily to eliminate ideas with low impact and high effort. However, the chart should serve as a tool, not a decision-making entity. It merely documents the team’s deliberations. Additionally, multiple ideas may warrant selection. Some ideas, classified as “Medium Impact / Low Effort,” can be immediately implemented, while others, offering higher impact at the cost of greater effort or time, may be prioritized for future execution.
8. Harness the Power of Metaphors
Metaphors, expressions that compare two dissimilar things, simplify complex topics in an easily digestible manner (e.g., “Life is a journey,” “Time is money”). They engage the emotional part of the brain, where memories reside and where intuitive and creative thinking occurs.
Linking two dissimilar concepts through metaphors helps our brains move beyond the obvious, exploring creative thoughts and ideation. Incorporating more metaphors can also enhance your creative writing. Fitness – Meditation – Diet – Weight Loss – Healthy Living – Yoga.
9. Study Opposing Views on the Same Idea
A crucial aspect of successful idea generation is acknowledging that there are infinite solutions to every problem. To develop this mindset, seek out different ways people respond to the same question.
Consider productivity, for example. Some believe that productivity hacks disrupt our lives, while others argue that our productivity depends on our proximity to certain individuals. Who is right doesn’t matter; the goal is to expose yourself to conflicting ideas, enabling you to broaden your perspective and develop your own take on the subject.
10. Engaging Leadership: Communicating the Idea Generation Process
If you’ve adhered to the previous 11 rules, you’ve likely amassed a formidable collection of ideas ready for exploration. However, along the way, it is crucial to engage internal stakeholders, as leaders may sometimes harbor skepticism regarding idea generation, perceiving it as unproductive or unconventional.
To secure funding for new ideas and garner recognition for your dedicated efforts, prepare an early, concise presentation outlining the idea generation process. If you’ve followed Rule #8, “Bring an industrial designer or artist,” you’ll be exceptionally well-prepared, armed with professional sketches and concept drawings assembled in a PowerPoint deck. This presentation allows leadership to ask questions and understand the strides made.
Idea generation, although a serious endeavor, need not be devoid of enjoyment. It is perfectly acceptable to derive satisfaction from the process. While it involves focused work, it is centered on solving intricate problems, which inherently demands seriousness. If it were straightforward, the problem would likely have been resolved already.
11. Maintain a Journal
A diary is an excellent tool for recording thoughts, emotions, and ideas. It provides an effective way to review the day’s events and contemplate why certain things occurred. This daily practice stimulates thoughts that might be overlooked in the hustle and bustle of a busy day.
If you already journal your thoughts each evening, consider also noting the best ideas you had that day for future reference. You may even find that this new habit enhances your sleep quality.
12. The Visual Facilitators: Industrial Designers and Artists
When feasible, contemplate the inclusion of an industrial designer or artist in your idea generation endeavors. This holds even more significance if the venture encompasses a novel product concept. Industrial designers, distinguished professionals, excel at crafting visual representations from vague descriptions. Grow Your Skills and Employability with Certifications.
Harnessing the Power of Visual Elements
Whether through cartoons or concept art, these individuals assist the team in visualizing ideas, bridging the realm of words received by the ear with images processed by the eye. Consequently, visual media establishes a shared language, providing idea-generation participants with a tangible foundation for elaboration:
“Yes, but slightly larger than that.”
“Almost there! Add a keyhole to the side.”
“The cover should fit over that end.”
And so forth.
Following the conclusion of idea generation, these visual elements evolve into pivotal artifacts and integral components of session notes. They can be presented to leadership to demonstrate accomplishments and even showcased to customers for concept evaluation.
For those operating within constrained budgets, consider reaching out to local art colleges or industrial design schools. They often maintain connections with recent graduates who can offer these services at reasonable rates. Alternatively, they may recommend current students eager to collaborate with real-world clients, offering a valuable learning experience for them and fresh perspectives for you.
13. Seize Ideas in the Moment
Ideas come knocking when they please, not necessarily when you summon them. Preparing for your next brainstorm session is only part of the equation. Understand that ideas arrive unannounced and make a habit of recognizing and capturing them.
Learn to detect when a notion pops into your mind and establish a simple method for seizing it instantly. Keep a notebook handy, leave yourself a voicemail, send an email to your own address, or find another way to grasp the idea before it vanishes.
14. Immerse Yourself in Literature
Ideas often spring from existing knowledge rather than magically appearing out of thin air. Proficient idea generators often possess a wealth of information, a treasure trove accumulated through a lifetime of reading, which forms the basis for their creative concepts.
Start reading, and you need not limit yourself to dense business textbooks. Mix it up! Explore fiction, dive into classic novels, peruse daily blog posts, and browse through newspapers. Don’t fret about getting sidetracked; your mind can wander as it processes ideas and concepts prompted by the words you consume.
Endeavor to promptly record these ideas as they surface. We’ve all experienced those eureka moments, only to frustratingly forget them as our minds wander to thoughts of dinner. Mindful Trader: Loans. Financial Services.Gifts. Stock Picking.
15. Idea Generation Beyond the Usual: Offsite Endeavors
Arranging offsite meetings demands additional effort, but the benefits for idea generation are unequivocal. The advantages of distancing oneself from the confines of customary meetings and routine responsibilities need little elaboration. The novelty of a fresh environment alone invigorates the mind.
Changing locations fosters mental agility, liberating individuals from familiar surroundings and the constraints of preconceived notions. Moreover, this transition can often be accomplished inexpensively. Museums, for instance, frequently feature underutilized meeting spaces available for affordable leasing. They also offer stimulating environments to explore during breaks.
Creative problem solvers readily seek inspiring offsite locales for idea-generation events.
16. Synchronizing Onsite and Offsite Ideation
Offsite events not only facilitate idea generation but also serve as opportunities to impart best practices in idea generation. However, it is unrealistic to anticipate that all the most exceptional ideas will sprout in a single day.
Moreover, it is essential to recognize when and where innovative ideas typically manifest. Often, they emerge while taking a leisurely walk, during a shower, or while engrossed in unrelated literature or film. Once our minds are engaged with a problem, idea generation occurs spontaneously. To capture these musings comprehensively, allow for asynchronous (occurring at different times) idea generation.
In some cases, facilitators distribute journals to participants to record “on-the-fly” thoughts. By embracing asynchronous idea generation, we harness the potential of inspired and well-rested minds.
17. Focus on Problem-Solving Ideas
The most valuable ideas are those that resolve issues for people. Instead of waiting for a magical idea to strike you, contemplate the problems people face that you’d like to solve.
By inverting the process, you direct your thought generation, increasing the likelihood of producing a valuable idea. It’s the most straightforward approach to enhance the worth of your ideas instantly.
18. Share Your Ideas Aloud
Similar to regurgitating others’ ideas, vocalizing your own concepts is a potent practice. Express your thoughts to someone else and spontaneously articulate them without reading from your notes.
Speaking a concept triggers something unique compared to writing it down, offering fresh insights.
19. Pose More Questions
Questions hold immense power, yet we often neglect to ask enough of them. In any conversation, formulating questions and attentively listening to answers can lead to new ideas.
This process provides additional information to work with and trains you to explore various angles and layers of problems rather than accepting them at face value.
20. Expert Guidance for Idea Generation
Engaging in idea generation, while often depicted with Nerf guns and pipe cleaners, is indeed demanding work. Participants frequently harbor strong opinions, and as we’ve explored, there exists a structured path for the most fruitful idea generation sessions.
For these multifaceted reasons and more, the most successful outcomes often materialize when an external idea generation facilitator is enlisted. These professionals serve as guardians of a sound process, akin to diligent traffic cops ensuring that forceful, extroverted personalities do not hijack the discourse. These facilitators also tactfully correct those who stray into the territory of “killer phrases,” a challenging task when dealing with colleagues.
With a proficient idea generation facilitator at the helm, participants can immerse themselves in the process, becoming productive contributors. They can redirect their creative energies towards the problem at hand, rather than battling each other.
21. Embracing Playfulness in Idea Generation
Toys at the workplace? It might sound unconventional, but a temporary suspension of our egos can reveal their potential to ignite creativity. They serve as wellsprings for accessing our most innate and ancient problem-solving instincts.
Everyone can recollect moments from their childhood when a backyard transformed into a Western cowboy town, Sherwood Forest, or the desert planet Tatooine. Children inherently excel at crafting rules for a new world and, subsequently, devising solutions within it.
The question arises: Can we rekindle this childhood superpower for contemporary, ostensibly more “serious” purposes? Indeed, we can, and this practice is gaining traction. Musical Instruments. Instrumental Software. Analog and Digital Synthesizers. Combo Organs.
Serious Play: Lego’s Creative Impact
Ronan Healy, a member of the design firm HowMightWe, harnesses the Lego Serious Play method to elevate idea generation outcomes, even for ostensibly “serious” corporate ventures. According to Healy:
“The most apparent benefit of Lego Serious Play is its ability to accelerate creativity. However, its ultimate mechanism is improved listening. Throughout over 75% of the workshop, colleagues attentively listen to each other. This ensures that even introverts, junior staff, and the disengaged ‘cynics’ feel empowered to contribute.
As each individual is mandated to employ Lego to construct, for instance, ‘A major impediment in their role,’ the absence of a completed Lego model becomes conspicuous, unlike traditional meetings where individuals can merely ‘sit back,’ disengaging as others speak.
Moreover, it is a misperception that confrontations are non-existent. Each session should surface tensions, fostering candid engagement. The act of ‘Playing’ instills a sense of safety, encouraging participation. Your boss, having listened all day amidst a sea of Lego, appears less intimidating.
With strengthened team cohesion and a comprehensive comprehension of the problem, the stage is set. Lego pieces are then most effectively employed to magnify creativity in resolving intricate problems.”
Empowering the Innovator Within with Toys
Once again, considering the inclusion of an external idea generation facilitator is highly advisable. Remarkably, these facilitators often possess toolkits, such as Lego Serious Play, to yield superior results.
22. Know Thy Problem-Solving Style for Effective Idea Generation
Understanding diverse problem-solving styles is integral. The Kirton Adaption-Innovation (KAI) Inventory offers insights into cognitive preferences.
The Adaptor’s Perspective
At one end of the spectrum, we find “Adaptors.” These individuals embrace structure, rules, and group cohesion. They adhere to current norms and regulations, making them adept at idea generation when conformity within established paradigms is essential.
The Innovator’s Stance
Conversely, “Innovators,” positioned at the opposite extreme, are less bound by structures and rules. They are comfortable challenging group coherence, and questioning conventions, paradigms, and even authority figures. Innovators excel at idea generation when tackling problems that demand venturing beyond conventional structures, norms, and perceived boundaries.
Both styles possess equal creative potential. Innovators shine when confronting challenges rooted in the impediments posed by existing structures, while adaptors excel in situations where adherence to established norms is paramount.
In reality, most individuals fall within the bell curve, displaying milder adaptive or innovative preferences.
23. The Power of Diversity in Idea Generation
Understanding that people exhibit diverse problem-solving styles underscores the importance of assembling diverse idea generation teams, featuring a blend of “Adaptors” and “Innovators.”
However, diversification extends beyond problem-solving styles. For optimum idea generation, diverse elements should converge within teams. Consider the following dimensions:
- Problem-solving style (adaptive, innovative)
- Introversion vs. extroversion
- Proximity to the problem (close, direct, indirect)
- Technical expertise
- Industry experience (deep specialization vs. cross-sectional knowledge)
- Educational background
The Contribution of Diversity
Throughout the divergence phase, the amalgamation of diverse styles and backgrounds yields a spectrum of ideas. During convergence, technical experts and adaptive problem solvers prove instrumental in selecting the most promising ideas for progression.
Moreover, a deliberate strategy should entail the inclusion of at least one team member entirely unfamiliar with the problem. Such individuals are unburdened by implicit assumptions and can offer fresh, untainted perspectives. Get matched with a Career Advisor and Mentor who will help you select and enroll in the right program for you.
24. Consider What You Consume
Idea generation thrives on consumption, not creativity. As Steve Jobs aptly put it, “Creativity is just connecting things.”
The more “things” you have to connect, the better your ideas become. This underscores the significance of the quality and quantity of what you consume in relation to your capacity to generate good ideas.
The books, TV shows, articles, and movies you engage with, the people you interact with, and the experiences you undergo all influence the ideas you generate. Quality begets quality, so if you consume junk, expect a similar output.
25. Exercise Your Mind
Teaching a subject is an unrivaled method of mastery. Teaching forces you to delve deep into a specific subject, leading to the generation of new concepts and ideas.
26. Think Broadly
One of the simplest ways to enhance idea generation is to view things from a macro perspective. Irrespective of the subject, you can broaden your viewpoint and find connections to other areas you’re brainstorming.
For instance, on a micro level, attending Billy Joel’s concert may be a delightful evening activity. Yet, by zooming out to a macro perspective, you may uncover universal ideas about connecting with audiences unrelated to music.
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