Here you will find ten of the best methods I have used in my organization for idea generation. They have worked for me very well. I now share them with you. I trust they will assist you in your endeavor as they have done with mine.
1) DEFINE THE PROBLEM
To generate ideas to solve business problems, we all need a starting point. You will not be able to fly from New York to Frankfurt, Germany until you first arrive at JFK. If you don't exactly know where you are, you will need a map to pinpoint your current location and then gradually work your way to JFK airport.
It is imperative that you establish where you are before looking to progress. In other words, study the map that will take you to New York thoroughly.
You have probably heard of this brilliant method. Simply, a group of people get together and simply write down as much as they can in relation to the objectives outlined. Don't worry about strategic planning or anything like that. Concentrate solely on idea generation. Place a time limit on the group and choose the location and the time well so that they are conducive to performance.
Make sure that everybody is at their peak and has been instructed to "Think Big." I have been able to move mountains after a very healthy brainstorming session.
3) FOCUS ENTIRELY ON WHAT YOU WANT
To give your ideas the best chance to sprout for your business solutions, you are going to need to switch off to outside influences. Tolerate nothing! Eradicate the distractions, the daily frustrations and predictable dramas of your life once and for all!
Don't just fix the problem, redesign your routine so the predictable irritations can't ever bother you again!
4) HAVE A GENUINE INTEREST IN WHAT YOU ARE TRYING TO SOLVE
Do you remember your schooling days when you participated in sports (or particular class subjects) that you absolutely detested; as back then, they were compulsory? Do you remember how good you were at these activities? Probably not as it doesn't present itself as a good memory. But it's probably safe to say that you didn't perform well.
It's very difficult to perform magnificently at something you're not overly fond of. If you have a vested interest in what it is you're trying to do, the likelihood of success is multiplied substantially. If you are trying to solve something that bores you to tears, for heavens sake give it to someone who really likes it. This concept encompasses teamwork, which is another subject altogether.
If you are self-employed, you will have an automatic interest (taking into account that you have a vision of what you want your business to become).
5) LOOK AT PARALLEL PROBLEMS & SOLUTIONS
Relate your current problem to one that you had in the past and check for parallels between the two. The way(s) earlier problems were solved can assist you greatly in generating ideas to solve subsequent situations that present themselves.
Think laterally, think vertically, think logically. The best ideas will always come from groups working for the common goal. Give your group as much opportunity to be creative by listening twice as much as speaking. Do this as informally as possible and get past situations into the open.
You can then draw on the past successes and take them a step further with the challenge of today.
6) LOOK AT EACH TASK AS A CHALLENGE
It's true that if you look at a problem simply as a "problem," then that is exactly how many will look at it. Sure it is a problem and, therefore, needs a solution. However, this thought should not be in the forefront of the mind when looking to turn this "problem" into an "asset."
The word "problem" tends to sum up negative thoughts within us. It is these negative thoughts that can almost act as a barrier to its resolution. Now if we turn the coin over and look at it from the other side (using our example in step 1), we can look at the trip from wherever we are to New York as an adventurous challenge. It is simply by this method that we have more positive thoughts within our mind and are more likely to enjoy ourselves along the way, presented with an interesting challenge as opposed to a potentially difficult problem.
Just look at the goal. How happy will you be when you arrive at Frankfurt?
7) TURN THE CHALLENGE/PROBLEM INTO A CATCHY EXPRESSION
Okay we have looked at using past example and creating parallels to "answer our challenge." One step further is to present the challenge as a catch phrase.
Using our same example:
'Aunty Jackie's For Christmas'Doing this will give everyone an idea of the benefits associated with solving the problem at hand. It puts them in the situation that they are already there.
'Frankfurt Or Bust' (Hmmm!! This one's a bit old)
'Europe For The Summer'
'Dream Trip Of A Lifetime'
'The European Cultural Experience'
'Tomorrow travel at 250kmh legally'
It's so much easier to get there with a popular vision on the mind. What expression would you suggest?
8) DAYDREAM!!! LET YOUR CREATIVE SUBCONSCIOUS WORK FOR YOU!!!
It's no strange coincidence that during the time you drive along staring out the window, sleep in your bed, undertake your daily duties at work or anything for that matter, your subconscious continues to work for you (even though you may not always be fully aware of this).
How often have you been doing something totally unrelated and then suddenly an idea snaps into your mind? Often? Sometimes? Never? In any case after you have put considerable time into solving your problem, you will find your inner mind will work for you. Sometimes if you try too hard to solve something, you end up with nothing short of major frustration.
So, as the expression goes "chill out," have a break and sleep on it. You may be surprised at how successful switching off can be.
9) ALTER YOUR ROUTINE REGULARLY
Have you ever noticed how easily we accumulate habits? Many habits can actually stifle your creativity. If you are someone who:
'travels the same route each day'To continue generating healthy ideas to better our work, our surroundings, our family, etc., we must continually be looking for "newness." Familiarity is very good in that it makes us feel very secure. It is this very security that closes our mind to change and restricts our creative abilities.
'works at the same desk and task day in day out'
'mixes with the same people regularly'
'takes your annual holidays to the same place each year'
Take the bus or the train across town or maybe even just a different route from time to time, broaden your job responsibilities, take on another sport or leisure activity and meet some different people with a different outlook.
You will be quietly surprised at how much positive energy you will get from doing things as small as that outlined above.
10) CARRY A NOTEPAD
I always have a notepad with me. I am now at the point where I can't live without one of the most simple devices known to man, which has probably been around almost since the days of the "Cave Man."
A pen with a pocket-size pad is brilliant, as you can capture every idea that comes to you. It's absolutely useless to say, "I'll write it down later," as the chances are very slim that you will in fact do that at all.
They will be your ideas. Capture them, preserve them, apply them.
This article was submitted by Darren Roberts.