A number of tips to trigger idea production…
You can make your brain crank out better ideas faster by asking yourself questions about the problem at hand or the entity/entities which you are considering.
Some Idea Production Questions:
- Can it be done backward? Upside down? Inside out? (Maybe you could commute faster by driving the wrong way for a mile, then picking up the highway or motorway)
- Can you borrow an idea from some other line of work? (Maybe you could hear what’s wrong with that machine by using a doctor’s stethoscope.)
- Can you substitute something? (Glue for nails, wood for metal, die-casting for machine work or vice-versa.)
- Can you leave something out? (Why lay expensive flooring if it’s to be covered with carpet?)
- Can you add something? (Will an extra storage box ease the load in an overcrowded closet?)
- Can you make it bigger? Lighter? Stronger? Smaller? Weaker? Heavier? (Maybe you can beef up a drill motor so it can drive big accessories.)
- Can you do it more cheaply? (Does the inside need the same finish as the outside?)
- Can you make it easier and simpler for someone to complete an important job? Look out for people complaining or frustrated by something
- Can you remove unnecessary or bureaucratic steps from a process?
- Can you create something with less functionality, features or performance so that it can compete at the lower end of an already established market?
- Can you combine it with something else? Many of the world’s great ideas came about from combining one entity or concept with another.
- Or alternatively, you may want to consider how to use an existing item in a completely new way.
Get Out There… Get New Knowledge!
Expanding your knowledge through experience is a key enabler to idea production so try and get out into your local community and try out new things.
You might want to join a volunteer group or try out a new sport at your local sports center or perhaps try out a new hobby.
Also consider signing up for a training course, workshop or college course on a subject matter that you are unfamiliar with.
Don’t forget your local library either. Libraries are a fantastic source of knowledge with books on almost every subject you can think of.
Look online too. Perform a local search… your local community might have an idea, inventors’ or entrepreneurs’ club. Clubs like this are great for bouncing ideas around and for getting some creative, positive energy. Alternatively, look online for information about professions that are unrelated to your own. Best practices in one profession can often be transferred in some way or another to another profession.
If you work for an organization and want to increase your individual idea production within your organization then ask to see if you can do a rotational assignment in a different office, department or role. If this option isn’t available then simply wander into other departments and functions during your break times and ask people what they do.
New knowledge and experiences might just make you see things in a totally different light. Creative ideas often come from connecting two unrelated knowledge areas together.
If the ideas are still not flowing then you can always ask other people. Most people when asked love to share their ideas. Reach out to your family, friends, customers, suppliers or reach out to people on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Alternatively, offer something as a prize and run a competition for the best ideas related to your particular area of interest.
For further study see this excellent article on idea generation by Max Gunther or take a look at the creativity techniques page where you will find a number of tools and techniques specifically aimed at helping you produce more creative ideas.