How to Get More Ideas (and More Out of Them)

As part of my Innovation Tools series, I got to thinking about ideas. Specifically, ways to have more of them. After some research, I came up with the list of idea generating tools below:

  1. Get in the habit of observation – adopt an anthropologist persona.
  2. Learn to ask the right questions – why, what, how, where when, who?
  3. Look at things from different perspectives – zoom in, zoom out, use different personas {experimenter, cross-pollinator, collaborator, storyteller}.
  4. Say yes to your ideas – don’t rationalise them away.
  5. Meet and hangout with people outside of your normal circle.
  6. Do things you haven’t done before.
  7. Mix and match new but similar ideas – connect and combine unrelated ideas, force relationships.
  8. Subtract or add something from an idea.
  9. Get visual with doodles and mind maps.
  10. Question your assumptions.
  11. Be curious – don’t be afraid of looking silly.
  12. Have lots of downtime – sleep, relax, meditate.
  13. Go for quantity over quality – some of them will be good!
  14. Nurture your workspace – make it a place where good ideas are easily formed.
  15. List the attributes of an existing solution – can they be put to other uses {adapted, magnified, minimised, substituted, rearranged, reversed, combined}?
  16. Just write a list (like this one!)
  17. Free write or brainstorm – make a note of anything that comes to mind, or just start writing without editing yourself (or others!)
  18. Read lots – read widely, read deeply, read daily.
  19. Exercise the idea muscle – try to come up with ideas everyday.
  20. When you get an idea, make a note of it immediately! – Have a system for recording and managing your inspirations.

Perhaps you have some others? If you do, I’d love to hear about them.

- Simon

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