Archive for September, 2012

What is stopping you from coming up with better ideas?

I just read this article in Fast Company.

How do you get past “the everything’s been done trap and generate new ideas”.

In it, many creatives and entrepreneurs share their techniques on how to get to original thoughts.

Most share my hunch – you need a means to keep you moving.

Here are my five steps for generating better ideas.

1. Get the question right.

Before you consider the possibilities, you need to knuckle down and articulate the problem you are trying to solve in a single sentence. A problem well stated is a problem half solved.

2. Stop yourself from trying to solve things right away.

Years of rote education has drilled the question answer response into all of us.

You need to suppress that part of you that wants recognition and reward, and consider all the ways into the problem. Fill a page full of little boxes and try and put a thought in every box. Not an idea, but a thought, anything and everything that might solve the problem. Your goal is to fill the page, not answer the question.

3. Things are going to get weird and that is perfectly normal.

We are not wired to consider possibilities when confronted with a problem, we are wired to jump out of harms way, that’s why the creative process makes you feel flustered, and like you aren’t getting anywhere. Understanding this helps you push through it and just keep going, it’s only after things stop making sense that the really interesting thoughts arrive.

4. Go do something else.

After you’ve a had a burst for an hour or two, go do an expense report, your time sheets, something that requires your full concentration. While you are applying conscious thought to this task, your subconscious will be sifting through all knowledge you’ve offloaded about the problem.

5. Keep a pen and paper handy.

Once your subconscious has done its job,  the answers will come to you thick and fast. Usually, if we are not having any luck on a solution, I’ll just go at it for an hour or so at night, sleep on it, and an idea will come to me while I’m on my way into work the next morning. We all do this without realising we do it, it’s why your best ideas often happen in the shower.