There’s a strange phenomenon caused by the world we’re living in today, especially when it comes to technology and business.
In our society, the definition of business success is strongly tied to the size of the business. Bigger means better.
I know a lot of people who want to start a business or a project but are stuck in this idea block. Why?
Because all they can think of is how could they build the next Facebook, next Uber or next Amazon?
Moreover, the internet today makes you feel like every idea already exists out there and there’s nothing left for you to do, right?
I know the feeling of bumping your head against the wall to come up with the next million-dollar idea that would change the world.
But the reality is different. There’s always room for improvement.
You can generate ideas virtually every day.
The key is to stop thinking of the “next Uber” and start looking more around you.
Try to scratch your own itch.
You’ll soon start to see all sorts of problems that you could potentially solve and turn them into ideas for a side-hustle, small business or start-up.
All businesses today were once just ideas on a piece of paper, but an idea by itself is worthless unless combined with (successful) execution.
This process of generating ideas can be trained. In fact, human creativity can be trained like going to the gym. It can become a habit.
We won’t go into details about the execution of an idea. That’s a whole different area that needs more than one article.
But I’m going to tell you about some techniques I use every day to come up with new ideas.
One powerful technique is probably by using writing to generate ideas. This is really well emphasized by Mark Levy in his book, The Accidental Genius.
Writing down problems we have in any area of our lives helps us to spark new ideas. This makes you focus on them on a more personal level, allowing you to think of options much faster. Writing can be the outlet for the imagination.
If you feel like you can’t come up with anything, think about what aspects of your life can improve.
Incorporate writing into your daily routine, even if it’s non-sense sometimes.
Use what it’s called stream of consciousness writing. This not only can bring you new ideas but also helps to clear your mind. The key to this writing type is not to force the process or second guess what you’re writing.
Make an idea journal.
Come back to them now and then with fresh eyes.
The visual nature of a mind map makes it very easy to organize thoughts and information to reflect the way our brain works.
Because it follows a web-like form and mimics the brain synapses, it actually stimulates memory, associations and thought processes.
It starts with a central topic, right in the centre and builds upon branches and nodes which makes everything so easy to visualize and memorize.
Mind maps can be of use in any aspect of your life.
SCAMPER method is a brainstorming technique and is best used to generate ideas for new products and services.
It’s an acronym formed by abbreviating Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate and Reverse.
Take an existing product or service that you would want to improve or use as a starting point.
Go down the SCAMPER list and ask questions on each item.
What can I substitute so I can make this better?
What ideas, materials, features, people, products or services can I combine?
Which part of the product could I change?
What can I modify, magnify or minify?
What else can it be used for?
What can I remove? What’s non-essential or unnecessary?
By asking yourself these questions, you put your brain to work.
“Vertical thinking is concerned with digging the same hole deeper. Lateral thinking is concerned with digging the hole somewhere else.” - Edward de Bono
On a day to day basis, humans use traditional thinking, vertically, moving step-by-step on a logical ladder based on what data we have as input.
Lateral thinking, also called factional thinking, is a term invented by Dr Edward de Bono. It means thinking in different ways in parallel to generate many ideas for a problem. You, literally, need to think outside of the box.
It may feel counterintuitive at first, but it can expand your thinking limits allowing you to explore things you never knew existed.
Let’s not underestimate the power of brainstorming.
Socializing and brainstorming together with other people.
While the above techniques are effective, you can often get stuck in your own head, like many people I know, including myself.
Humans are social creatures. Getting out there and meeting with people in different environments can be a great way to boost inspiration.
All those neurochemicals released while you socialize are firing up your brain like a Christmas tree. Even for most introverts.
Plus, you can get instant feedback and have a somewhat validation of your idea.
This is also a very good opportunity to validate any existing idea you already have.
Just talk to the people about your ideas. Find like-minded people and share your thoughts. Start executing small ideas that can grow into a larger whole.
Although there are many ways to become an idea machine, I find these to be the most effective techniques.
Your brain’s a fascinating thing that can work wonders. Take care of it.
Meditation and exercise can help you get into a flow state even better.
Thank you for making it ‘till the end.