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The Top 10 Ways To Come Up With Great Ideas


I’ve seen a few posts of this ilk (for a recent good one go here). They’re never less than interesting but successful ideas generation is a personal thing so they rarely capture all that works for me. So here is what does – my take on the best way to generate excpetional ideas:

  1. Commute. By this, I don’t mean everyone should immediately move out of town. I just mean realise the importance of making space for yourself. Having time to think. For me, it’s the time I have on the train coming into and going home from work. For you, it might be the time you spend in the gym, or practicing Origami. It’s very very easy not to reward yourself in this way. Do it. Everyday.
  2. Down time. A related one, but not the same. Think about the occasions when you’ve had your best ideas in the past. Where were you? What were you doing? Chances are that a high proportion of the time you weren’t sat in a brainstorming session. I used to know someone who literally had all their best ideas in the shower. Recognise that great ideas often float up when you’re not busy and your mind is left to wander. Don’t be afraid to day-dream a little…
  3. Write it down. Always carry a pen and pad. We’ve all done it. Trying to go back to that blinding idea you just had whilst you were out getting a sandwich and then not being able to dig it out from the mists of your memory. If number two is true, then this is critical.
  4. Freshness. And I don’t mean your deodorant. One of my favourites this one because it’s a lot of fun. Freshness is good. The chaps at ?Whatif! call this "A habit of trying new things, of being comfortable with the unpredictable". At it’s heart is the practice of pro-actively creating the opportunity for exposing yourself to new stimuli. But maybe it’s also about avoiding "the anaesthetic of the familiar". This might mean going to an art exhibition. It might mean going a different route into work. It might mean attending a conference which is not directly related to your work. Do what works for you, but don’t be afraid of trying something different. At the simplest level, next time you’re surfing the blogosphere make it a point to seek out and read at least one blog that you haven’t read before, preferably from a completely different field. Do that every time.
  5. Read. A lot. It helps. For obvious reasons I think.
  6. Rebel. Challenge the norm. One of the best things about hiring in new staff who haven’t worked in your organisation before, is that they often ask why things are done like they are. Instead of waiting for the next time you have a new starter to do it, challenge it yourself. Now.
  7. Reapply. Take an idea in one market, apply it and reinterpret it for another. I do this a lot. It works for me a treat and is, I believe, the kind of skill that gets easier and more habitual the more you practice it.
  8. Redefine. And not just the problem. Try redining what surrounds your problem. Looking at a market in a completely different way will often enable you to view an issue in a completely different light.
  9. Milk it. There are undoubtedly times when I’m on a creative roll, when the ideas just flow. Clear your diary and get brainstorming.
  10. Talk-create. Sometimes I talk ideas into existence. I can be talking through a particularly tricky problem with one of my staff when a thought pops into my head which if I then verbalise, often leads to us co-creating a solution. So get those thoughts out there and bounce them around a bit.


4 responses to “The Top 10 Ways To Come Up With Great Ideas”

  1. lolly Avatar

    I totally gree – I would also add clear your mind (aka meditate) so you can even better ideas the next day!

  2. lolly Avatar

    I totally gree – I would also add clear your mind (aka meditate) so you can even better ideas the next day!

  3. neilperkin Avatar

    Thanks L-H. Hope you’re well!

  4. neilperkin Avatar

    Thanks L-H. Hope you’re well!

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