In creative professions like advertising and marketing, the ability to generate fresh ideas is an essential skill. In fact, in most businesses and professions, idea production is an important ingredient in overcoming obstacles, solving problems and capitalizing on opportunities.
Fortunately, you don’t have to possess the visionary mind of a Steve Jobs to ignite creative sparks that can lead to better ways of accomplishing goals. Follow these proven idea-inducing tips and techniques, and watch your efforts result in more effective brainstorms – on your own and in collaboration with others.
- Broaden your frame of reference by being a student of life. Read widely. Talk to strangers. Go to movies. Try new activities. You’ll lead a more interesting life and have a deeper well of experience from which to draw thoughts and ideas.
- Clearly identify the problem or need before moving on to the brainstorm phase. As American engineer Charles Kettering once said, “A problem well stated is a problem half solved.”
- Eliminate mental blocks and dismiss your internal critic. Be willing to fail and fail again on your way to success. By keeping your mind open and flexible, you’ll remove a lot of the pressure that gets you in that all-or-nothing rut of pre-judging ideas harshly.
- In a group brainstorming session, let freedom of expression flow. A diversity of viewpoints makes for richer thinking. Don’t scrutinize any concepts that come up until later. At the initial stage, quantity counts more than quality.
- Create a collaborative atmosphere during brainstorms that lifts the interaction above and beyond competition. Listen with genuine interest. Welcome exaggerated and offbeat ideas. Play off of what others contribute and add a new twist or insight if possible. The main thing is to have fun and write down everything, either on paper or via computer.
Coming up with great ideas isn’t about waiting for the lightning bolt of inspiration to strike. Define your goal clearly, keep an open mind and ear, and allow yourself to take risks. You may not invent the next iPad, but you’ll have the right work habits to stimulate productive, creative thinking in yourself and those around you.