Ideas: Less Is Not More, More Is More
Minimalism is soooooo yesterday! Don’t get left behind because you lack ideas. French philosopher Emile Chartier said, “Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have.”
When faced with a problem, we normally try to solve it as soon as possible and then use the first solution that pops into our heads. This often leads to less than satisfactory or even disastrous results.
Move away from thinking “there’s only one right answer.” Train your mind to think in more agile and fluent ways. These questions will help:
- What else will work?
- What else is possible?
- Is this the only way?
- What ..?
- Why not try …?
- How do others feel about this?
The more ideas you come up with, the better your chances to find a new way or even an astounding solution.
Remember: Bouncing ideas off others can trigger even more ideas.
George Bernard Shaw said: “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples, then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”
Diverging: Good Things Do Happen to Bad Ideas
The golden rule of creative thinking is to first diverge and then converge. To get the best ideas, make sure you do both. In other words, make your mind work like a lung, and practice until it comes as naturally as breathing!
- Accept all ideas – don’t judge or “edit” them.
- Generate as many ideas as possible.
- Seek wild ideas.
- Build on other people’s ideas.
Often, bizarre ideas can result in a solution never thought possible.
In a very cold, snowy region where encounters with bears are not unusual, someone complained at a town council meeting about bears harassing people on their properties. Also, on the agenda for the meeting was the problem of the weight of the snow breaking telephone lines, so someone else jokingly suggested that they train the bears to climb the telephone poles to shake the ice loose. In the same spirit, another member proposed placing honeypots on top of the poles to encourage the bears to climb up the poles. Yet another added that they could use helicopters to deposit the honeypots on the poles.
All bizarre ideas, you might think. But this silly discussion led to a very useful solution. They started to regularly fly helicopters over the town. The wind generated by the helicopter blades would blow the snow off the telephone lines!
So, next time think twice before killing a weird idea!
Converge: Pull yourself together!
Once you are satisfied with your list of diverging ideas, you need to reduce and converge them to get to a creative solution.
Looking at your list of ideas:
- Affirm your ideas. Discipline yourself to think: What’s good about this?
- Consider each idea without prejudice.
- Evaluate the ideas critically. Remember, 80% of the value is hiding in 20% of the options!
- Select the most relevant options. Remember your original goal, and check your objectives. Don’t go for splendid ideas that don’t solve the problem.
- Improve your ideas. Most of us feel proud yet vulnerable when presenting a new idea. Remember, every bright idea flows from a great deal of careful thinking! Praising an idea first is a good technique to spare feelings and improve ideas.
Follow these steps (they are equally helpful whether you are challenging yourself or giving feedback on someone else’s behaviour, products or proposals):
- Mention benefits.
- Look for potential.
- Express concern as open-ended questions aimed at future development.
- Overcome concerns by following this process and becoming more comfortable with it.
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