2013-11-15 / Columnists


7 Ways To Generate Great Ideas
By Kevin Daum

(Reprinted with permission)

You don't have to be a deep thinker to come up with new ideas. Here are seven ways to break your conventional thinking and make that light bulb appear.

What makes the difference between a good idea and a great idea? Good ideas come along all the time and help people solve minor problems in work and daily life. Great ideas appear a little less frequently and require a little more work to execute. Great ideas aren't necessarily the result of highly-paid think tanks or drug-induced vision quests in the desert. Often they are unexpected moments of inspiration that help keep the napkin companies in business.

The big challenge of generating great ideas is freeing yourself from the conventional, mundane thoughts that occupy most of your brain time. Here are seven tips to help you open your mind and stimulate your great idea generator.

1. Engage in Observation Sessions:

Great ideas won't happen in a vacuum. You need some way of getting your brain to think in new and creative ways. Commit time to specific sessions where you stimulate your brain into thinking differently. Being a New Yorker, my favorite method is people watching. A simple walk through Manhattan can introduce me to exciting activity and behavior that makes me think anew. Any crowded urban area, mall or zoo can do the same.

2. Socialize Outside Your Normal Circles:

Hanging around with the same friends and colleagues can get you in a thinking rut. Take advantage of all those LinkedIn connections and start some exciting conversations. New people don't know all your thought patterns and old stories, so you'll have to revisit your existing inner monologues. The refreshing perspectives will help to surface new thinking and possibly a lightning bolt or two.

3. Read More Books:

Books are wonderful for creating new thoughts and stimulating great ideas. For a long time, I didn't read much. When I added business books to my routine, it helped me learn more and expand my way of thinking. But several years ago, I started again reading fiction and histories. These stories really got me out of my daily headspace and activated my idea generator. Even if you can't make the time for a novel, go hunt down a bookstore and spend an hour browsing. You'll find plenty of thought stimulation.

4. Randomly Surf the Web:

Google is great when you know what you are looking for, but the best way to generate new ideas is with unexpected learning. Take an hour each week and go on a web journey. Start with the I'm Feeling Lucky button and just take it from there. Try to pick the stranger and more obscure references as you surf and stretch your brain a bit.

Want to see the rest of this column? Check out this and other great idea related articles by Kevin Daum at Inc. Magazine (www.inc.com/kevin-daum/7-ways-to-gen erate-great-ideas.html)

Got your own ideas or stories? Share them with me at RickHoran@ IdeasImprov.com.

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