Thursday, May 28, 2009

5½ Strategies For Coming Up With Fresh Ideas

I found this article on coming up with fresh ideas to be an excellent read. I definitely liked the discussion about organizing your thoughts before bed and solving problems in your sleep - I've had good success doing this.

The article lists 5 approaches - you may be wondering where the ½ part comes from. Well, I'd like to submit an approach I've been using of late. I'm not quite sure how solidified it is yet, so I'll only count it as ½ a suggestion.

Here's what you do:

Pick a problem you'd like to solve, and ahead of time, commit to coming up with a fixed number of solutions (say, 3 for example).

Now, work through the problem and develop the ideal solution. Once you're done crafting this solution, you should feel like you've found The One True solution.

Now, throw this idea out. Banish it from the list of possibilities. Assume that it's a complete failure. Now develop another solution. If you've done the first part right, this should be hard to do. After all, you found the True Solution, why do you need to come up with another? But that's where the fun begins - you've got to develop a second solution that solves the problem completely differently than the first.

Keep doing this process of coming up with the perfect solution and throwing it out, till you've reached your goal number of solutions.

Now, put all the solutions back on the table and marvel at the novel ideas you've come up with.

There's probably a sexy name for this technique and I can't imagine I'm the first to employ it - but it sure does seem to be useful.

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