An Entrepreneur’s Guide To Idea Generation
In a simple definition, the idea stands for thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action.
If you are thinking of solving a problem, you are thinking of an idea. From a new prank to play on your siblings to a plan to increase the sales of your business, everything is an idea. So basically, an idea is the base of innovation and growth.
Ideas are the reason behind the change. We look for ideas when we want to change, otherwise, there is no need for ideas. Let the world work the way it does.
We would be living in a totally different world if no one would have thought about electricity. Some ideas are so simple that you will think why no one else thought about it. Example: To increase the sale of Colgate, a person suggested to increase the size of the hole so that people will consume more toothpaste. He was paid $100,000 in the 1950s for this idea!
While some ideas are so complex that you will think about how someone can think about that. Example: Quantum theory of physics and many more.
Some ideas are practical and profitable and some ideas are just ideas that are born in our mind and they only die there. There is no use of idea generation as generating ideas will take you nowhere. Valuable ideas are the ones that are practical and the ones that you work on and make them come true.
To make an idea come true, you have to go miles. JK Rowling’s Harry Potter novel was rejected by dozen’s of publishers before it was finally published by a British Publisher. Now the books have become the highest-grossing film series of all time. The success of your idea depends on your project execution. There are tons of ideas out there that are struggling to become true and there are some ideas like a goldfish walker, which I can never understand why someone will buy.
So the basic thing is, we want quality ideas, but we know that it is difficult to come up with high-quality ideas when you are stuck with your old routine and work. You cannot come up with something brilliant when you are entirely focused on your work.
It is hard for a busy person to come up with some high-quality idea as idea generation requires critical thinking. This is the reason why 72% of people have creative insights in the shower. In a 2014 study conducted by Kaufman, 72% of respondents around the world reported having some kind of new insight in the shower. The sole reason is that you have nothing else to do while you take the shower, therefore you can focus more on the idea.
To make idea generation easier, here are some simple techniques that you can try:
The process revolves around gathering a team and or producing a huge number of solutions for a problem. It can also be used to come up with a new idea. There is no assessment of ideas in this technique. You can speak out freely and without any fear of criticism. You can put out the most bizarre ideas too. As it is easier to tame an idea than levelling it up.
This technique can be performed solely too. You can list down all the ideas that you have and then you can just pick the best one out. Whereas, if you prefer to perform this technique as a team activity, the ideal group comprises 6 to 10 people. Moreover, you can add or less some people according to your idea’s project scope.
The idea is not about thinking about something new or out of the box. Modifying the current technique is also considered as an idea.
This technique utilizes action verbs as stimuli. This technique was created by Bob Eberie and this technique is used for problem-solving and creative thinking. SCAMPER is an acronym where each letter represents an action that can be used to replace parts of processes.
Substitution: It refers to replacing one part of your process with another to get better results.
Combine: It refers to combining two or more ideas into one single idea to create a more effective solution.
Adapt: This step focuses on making the process more flexible.
Modify: It focuses on looking at a problem or a solution from a bigger perspective and aims at improving the overall result, rather than focusing on improving the process.
Put to another use: It refers to focusing on finding ways to use an idea to improve another process and analyses the benefits of doing so.
Eliminate: This is the most straightforward process. It aims to look to examine the effect on the results if one or more processes are removed.
Reverse: It refers to interchanging the process and examining the effect of the same on the final result.
In this technique, you have to write the word (problem or solution) in the middle of the paper and then you have to write down all the related words that come to your mind. Once, you have written all the words, you have to join the words with lines that will display their connections. Use minor and major lines to represent previous and following steps respectively.
It is a graphical or structural technique where you have to imagine connections between different processes. This technique was developed by a UK researcher, Tony Buzan. Mind mapping can help in brain storing, project planning, project scheduling, problem-solving, etc.
4. Six thinking hats
The six thinking hats or Edward de Bonno’s six hats is an effective idea generation technique which can be used in a group discussion or for individual thinking.
It is a different way of thinking about an idea. Different colour of hats represent different perspectives of thinking and looking at the problem. The objective is to eliminate one-sided thinking and create new insights. Six different frames of mind are distinguished in which the brain becomes sensitive.
The six different frames of minds according to the different colours of hats are as follows:
White: Only the available information and facts are considered.
Red: Emotions like intuitive reactions or expressions, without any justification.
Black: This stage is to pass comments. Mistakes are to be identified and you have to look for every possible mismatch.
Yellow: This hat is used to identify different opportunities. This is a positive hat, therefore you are looking for harmony and positive processes.
Green: This is the creative hat. This step is a statement of provocation and investigation. While you are wearing this hat, you will hear what the idea or the project proposal is about.
Blue: This stage comprises 3 steps and they are thinking, thinking and thinking.
5. Trying new things
Ideas are limited to a person’s mental expansion. This is the reason why literate people are more efficient than the opposite.
Ideas mean creating something new and something different. If you are following the same schedule, how do you think you would be able to think about something new and different?
The willingness to explore and try new things is directly related to a person’s creativity. As the famous band, Beatles started toying and trying new loops and instruments, there was a notable change in their music and it turned out to be positive. Exploration is tied to learning new things and when one learns new things their scope increases and they can produce better ideas.
The process is very simple. You have created a project roadmap and the team has gathered to find a solution. Instead of shouting out all the ideas, the team members are asked to write down their ideas on a sheet of paper, within the given time. After the time is up, all the members are supposed to transfer their sheets to someone else. Now the other person will write something related to the idea written on the paper.
After a few minutes, all the team members will again pass the sheet to someone else and the same process will be continued for the next 15 minutes. After this, all the sheets are collected and discussed to find the best solution.
7. Reverse thinking
As the name itself suggests, you have to do the opposite of solving a problem.
The motto is to think about how you can grow the problem. Like if you run a youtube channel and you want to have more subscribers, you will think about how you can lower the number of subscribers.
Not posting regularly will help you in doing so. Now, you just have to do the opposite to have a positive effect. A majority of people find it easier to think of reverse ideas simply because it is much more fun. You should not over do it, 10-15 ideas are fine.
This is the Entrepreneur’s guide to idea generation. Knowing more is the key to producing better ideas. Therefore, you should keep on researching the niche that you are trying to solve until you find a solution. Moreover, Google is flooded with ideas and solutions, and if you are lucky enough, you may hit the jackpot of finding a readymade solution or idea.
Shyamal Parikh is the Founder of SmartTask, an online work management tool that’s helping teams be more productive by having clarity on who’s doing what by when. Has a penchant for researching and sharing strategies that could benefit a team’s productivity.