Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Simple Way to Produce Breakthrough Ideas

The human brain has the unique ability to produce creative ideas.  It creates a new idea by taking 2 or more existing ideas and seeing a new “relationship” between them that applies to an opportunity or problem it is seeking to solve.  A solution, idea, path forward, etc. is handed over to you (sometimes when you least expect it).  This is a very simple procedure for the brain to accomplish and it does this work on its own. 
New ideas are important in many, if not all disciplines, but particularly in business.   Any one of these creative ideas, once nurtured, can move you in new directions.  It would be nice to know how we can direct this activity of the brain and call on it on a consistent basis.  There is a technique.      
techniqueJames Webb Young wrote the classic book “A Technique for Producing Ideas” in 1965. I am not trying to plug this book in any way, except to say, I have used it’s advice many times.  Mr. Young was an early pioneer in the advertising industry and started teaching this technique to college students at the University of Chicago in 1939. It would take you about an hour to read and it is worth every minute and every bit of its $6.00 price on Amazon.
There is a 5 step process to creating ideas, which must occur in order. 
Stage 1.  Gathering raw material – this is an important part.  You must develop a curious mind that grabs bits of information across subjects – some that are all about your business or project and others that are far afield as history art, science, etc. Without this stuff, there is not enough raw material with which to work. 
Stage 2 – Chew on the dimensions and facts regarding the solution or idea you seek.  Poke, prod, go deep where you have questions, hold it up in new lights.  Work this part to exhaustion, don’t give up.
Stage 3 – Let it all go – push away, go to the movies, a concert, or to sleep.  
Stage 4 – The idea will appear – Your mind does this part on its own; presenting you with the light bulb moment, an idea..
Stage 5 – Expand on this new idea – work it in the real world, don’t hold it too close, let others breathe life into it.  
All of this suggests that a life rich in curious wonder of the interesting things happening around you is the most useful material to creating breakthrough ideas.  The power of just one brilliant idea may just change your world.

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