When it comes to generating ideas, nothing beats doing it as a group. You feed off each other’s energy and the ideas of others provides you with something to build and expand on. However, it is not always possible to generate ideas as a group, particularly now that so many of us are working remotely. And sometimes it is just a good idea to generate a few ideas on your own before you enter a meeting, so that you have something positive to contribute.
For this reason, I have been studying various idea generation techniques that you can use on your own. Below are my favorites.
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Just get going
The best way to generate ideas is to just get started. We often plan an idea out in our head for minutes and even hours before writing anything down. Then, when we finally do write it down, we are so committed to that idea that we don’t think about other options. Nowadays, I grab a pen and paper and try to write down the worst, stupidest idea I can think of. This is relaxing, fun, and even a bit creative. Then, I quickly write down ten other ideas, with the aim of making each one better than the last. Before long, you have a list of ideas, some of which will be really good. You may even find that you can use some elements of the ideas that were not all that good.
Draw your ideas
When you feel that you have a few good ideas, try to visualize them on a piece of paper. Because no-one else will ever see it, there is no pressure, even if you are not an artist. You may chuckle at your drawings, or you may realize you are not as bad as you thought. Either way, when we draw, we activate other creative centers in our brain, which help you to approach your work from a different angle. Also, seeing your project visually represented makes it less daunting and more concrete, which will also help you to generate alternative ideas on how to accomplish your task.
Look for the connections
As Steve Jobs said, “creativity is just connecting things.” To tap into this wisdom, write down the two things you want to connect on opposite sides of a page, then try to list the things you need to happen to get from the one thing to the other in the most efficient way. Solutions hardly ever look as clear as this. If you have a huge project, you may want to break it down into several pieces and write each one down on a separate piece of paper, and then try to find the solutions between each of these points. I find that this not only helps to map out a clear road for the tasks that lay ahead, but it also makes it a lot easier to delegate the work that each person on the team needs to perform to get the right outcome.
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