So far, I’ve suggested several possible ways that we generate great ideas. Basically, they’ve all come down to a very similar process: the little undeveloped idealings are deposited in our minds, where they are nurtured and coddled until it’s time for them to experience the jostling and stimulation that is necessary for them to develop into full-grown ideas. It appears that one of the ways that we wake the idealings up and begin the be-bopping around process is by interacting with other people, exchanging immature ideas until they connect and collide and ka-boom – a big idea!
But what if we are alone and happy in our solitude? Elmer R. Gates didn’t invite people into his ‘personal communication room’ to sit with him while he went through his automatic writing process. Even in his soundproof, lightproof box of a room he managed to come up with enough possibilities that he was paid hefty sums to sit in thought until he had ideas of value to his clients.
Besides constructing a soundproof, lightproof box in our basement, what can we do, all alone, to stimulate the growth and development of ideas? We can jostle them around by ourselves. We can push them around, roll them over and look at them in different ways. We can take them apart and put them back together in new ways.
I found a website that suggests some out of the box ways to take a simple idealing and turn it into a great idea. It’s the website of JW Rider. You can tell by his website that he is a unique thinker. On the Great Ideas page of his site, he gives a seven step framework for coming up with great ideas:
- Look at your idea. Observe it from different perspectives and angles
- Take your idea apart. Use different approaches. Try looking at each part as a separate idea.
- Add to/remove from your idea. Your idea should be complete but not overdone.
- Modify/substitute parts. Find out which works best.
- Put the parts together. Use different designs and orderings.
- Combine ideas together. In different ways.
- Use your idea. Adapt it for a special purpose. Maybe some new idea will occur to you.
On this same page he then has a free-writing type of section where he has laid out numerous ways to push the limits and change it up. Here are just a few of the ways JW Rider suggests you jostle an idea until it morphs into an even better idea.
Brush off the dust Exaggerate · Make it friendly Take the path less traveled · Bridge the gap · Weather-proof it Give it a name · Make it simpler Push, don’t pull · Other ways to stop · Entertain suggestions · Add new ingredients Teach others about it · Test it thoroughly · Color it · Connect another system · Revise something · Put theory into practice Reverse cause and effect Play it to music Occupy less space · Make it use less room · Make it three dimensional · Paint it · How does it smell? · Sleep on it
Remember the Idea Champions? If you visited their website, you probably found their great idea. It is the coolest tool to help you come up with your own great ideas. It’s called Free The Genie, a set of 55 creative thinking cards.
You can play online and there is a free trial so I gave it a try. I had to state the question I needed an answer to and then I had a choice of next steps. I could choose a random card, or an either/or, or one now and one is sent later. Each card asks you a question or suggests a way for you to explore options. In the interests of scientific research, I tried them all. Here’s the one I really liked:
Open the nearest book or magazine. Close your eyes and randomly point to a word. Using this word as a trigger, free associate and jot down as least 10 ways of improving your most compelling idea.
I can see these Free the Genie cards being a great tool, either individually or in a team setting. In fact, I just got an idea! Gotta go…
Oh wait. I almost forgot. Go and sign up for the Great Idea Challenge. You could win one full month of Future Pull coaching PLUS at the end of the month, you’ll receive the great ideas e-book just for signing up. Go here to find out more and sign up.