Every successful product, service, or process ever developed had one thing in common: it started out as somebody’s idea. Someone, somewhere, encountered a challenge or an opportunity, and applied their creative problem-solving skills to derive an effective solution.
Fresh, novel ideas are the currency of success in today’s innovation-driven world. Our ideas are what demonstrate our value in the marketplace, and what differentiate us from others.
Unfortunately, generating fresh, innovative ideas isn’t always easy. In fact, sometimes it can feel downright impossible. As hard as we try, it seems like something gets in our way. But what? And what can we do about it?
Here are 6 secrets for liberating your creative problem-solving genius, and becoming a more effective idea generator.
- Postpone Judgment (and especially self-judgment)— Our internal, critical voice can inhibit our ability to generate ideas. And of course, the same is true when someone criticizes another person’s idea. So at the first sign of judgment (whether internal or external) simply remind yourself, or others, that there will be a time to evaluate and judge ideas later, during the idea selection process. Don’t judge while generating. The more you critique your ideas, the less time and energy you’ll have to spend on generating new ones.
- Keep in Mind, “There’s No Such Thing as a Bad Idea!” —This is one of the most controversial topics we introduce in our training. But there’s a reason the majority of brainstorming experts say this. Because even the worst sounding ideas can, potentially, contain the seeds of a great idea within them. We all know that some ideas may be impractical, or even impossible. The point is, don’t immediately decide an idea is “bad” and kill it before you’ve given it a chance to grow into something amazing.
- Go for Quantity, not Quality—For every 100 ideas you generate, only a handful will be truly original, with real potential. So you usually need to come up with a lot of ideas in order to end up with a few great ones. And remember, you’re not pre-judging. So just come up with as many as possible – and then evaluate them later. As Linus Pauling, the famous medical researcher once said, “The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas, and throw the bad ones away.”
- Go for Wild, Edgy, and Audacious Ideas—You never know how far you can go, until you’ve gone too far! When searching for innovative ideas, it’s better to push concepts to the edge of audacity, than to be too conservative in the first place. Because it’s always easier to pull back a crazy idea, than to make a conventional idea more exciting. So don’t be too practical or overly sensible…that rarely leads to anything innovative. Give yourself permission to consider and share even the craziest ideas. Game changers are almost never “safe.” Take the risk, and go for greatness!
- Question all Limiting Assumptions— An assumption is a fixed belief or idea about the way something is, or the way something should be. They are unexamined beliefs we perceive to be true – something we take for granted – often with little or no evidence or proof. A common expression that comes from this way of thinking is, “That’s just the way things are.” The more assumptions an individual, group, or organization operates under, the more limited possibilities seem to be, and the less adventurous the exploration of ideas. To eliminate any limiting beliefs that may impede your creative problem solving, simply make a list of any assumptions you may be making about the situation or problem. Challenge each assumption by asking, “Is it true?” “Is it absolutely true, all the time, without exception…ever?” If not always true, what are the possibilities? Watch as new possibilities and opportunities present themselves.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Fail, Quickly and Often—Every great creative thinker understands that experimentation and failure is a necessary part of success! So don’t be afraid of failing. The trick is to learn from your “so-called” failures quickly, and then try something new and better! Remember, Thomas Edison failed over 1,000 times before successfully finding a long-lasting filament for his incandescent light bulb. In truth, no one ever really fails until they stop trying.
Creative problem solving is one of the most valuable and marketable skills in business today. Imagine what would be possible if everyone on your team and in your organization were a creative problem-solving genius! Keep these 6 principles in mind every time you or your team is generating ideas. You’ll feel a greater sense of confidence and freedom. And you’re sure to come up with more effective, more innovative solutions every time!
Excerpt from the SmartStormer® Innovative Thinking & Idea Generation eCourse. To learn more visit http://SmartStorming.com/Online_Learning.