Generating Great Ideas
You have landed a new job, and you are busy learning the ropes, how can you take time regularly to participate in activities that allow you to become more creative, and to consistently generate great ideas. Today’s reality, when managing your career, dictates that you make yourself more valuable, to differentiate yourself from your peers. One of the ways in which you do that is to become the person known for generating the greatest and most creative ideas. You do not have to spend an inordinate amount of time, especially if you understand the creativity process. This process shouldn’t be viewed as another thing to add to an already over-scheduled day, but viewed as a means to create a competitive advantage.
Throughout the ages, the greatest thinkers and innovators have built on the ideas and models of others. In the 1926 book, The Art of Thought, Graham Wallas built on Hermann von Helmholtz’s creativity model. And James Webb Young further refined the creativity model in A Technique for Producing Ideas to make it more accessible.
Creativity Model to Generate Great Ideas
1. Stage I: Preparation (Research/Gather ideas)
a. Gather General Information
i. This is an ongoing process throughout your life.
ii. Record any interesting information you come across to use later.
b. Specific Information
i. Gather as much information as possible on the topic of interest.
ii. Write down the information where it is easily accessible.
iii. Classify the information by sections of the topic of interest.
2. Stage 2: Incubation: (Lay the issue aside for a period of time)
3. Stage 3: Illumination: (The moment when the new solution (idea) emerges)
4. Stage 4: Verification/Implementation: (Test out the idea then apply it)
All the stages in the creativity model are critical, but the Preparation stage is the most important step for professionals who expect to consistently generate great ideas. In this stage, you are building a body of knowledge that you can draw on when needed. Here are a few activities that you can participate in to begin the process:
Read diverse and thought provoking books written by authors from different countries.
Listen to at least one TED Talk each week.
Attend conferences such as TED Conferences, Aspen Ideas Festival and Idea City.
Read blogs such as Big Think, and Brain Pickings.
Watch the Great Big Ideas series of videos.
Take a massive open online course, or other free online class.
Create a peer-mentoring group where you learn and share ideas.
When you build these activities into your life, whenever you have problems to solve or issues to address, you will discover that you generate great ideas that are creative because you have laid the foundation by creating a substantial body of knowledge that you can draw on. In addition, you will notice patterns among seemingly unrelated information, and you will be able to generate meaningful insights. The process may appear daunting at first, but once you have started to build it into your day, it becomes second nature to you. Acquiring the skill of generating great ideas will make you more valuable to any employer.