Enough has been said. Ideas are currency of 21st century. More than any other skill, the ability to come up with alternative way of thinking, a different perspective, a unique solution is more valuable than any other skill in the world of knowledge workers – people like you and me.
Good news is you don’t have to be a genius to achieve this seemingly impossible trait. I have been trying out different techniques to tune one’s idea muscle. It is interesting that we are calling this as ‘muscle’. Like any other muscle you can choose to exercise it and benefit out of its strength.
#1 Mind Mapping
This is the most formal brainstorming and ideating tool. The advantage with mind mapping is you get a macro-picture of a concept on a single page. More so you get to see the complex networking each sub-concepts and how it relates to each other.
Mark Levy, the author of ‘Accidental Genius’ puts forth his secret to genius level thinking. Freewriting is a very easy to employ. It involves writing imperfectly or silencing your internal editor. It is about doing a brain dump and trying to cull out interesting ideas as you pour. Almost mindless writing helps one to connect with the streaming sub-conscious mind helping interesting insights visible that was otherwise not possible before. A word of advice for starters – time yourself for 2 minutes and freewrite as much as you can.
#3 10 ideas per day
Stole this idea from James Altucher. He recommends forcing oneself to come up with 10 different ideas a day and continuing this practice almost every day. The key here is you don’t have to come up with perfect 10 ideas. It is just about exercising your idea muscle than the getting the idea itself.
#4 A List of 100
Similar to 10 ideas a day concept, but it is about deliberating upon a topic to come up with 100 different ideas (stole this from LiteMind). Though a bit tiresome, it is worth a shot.
#5 Idea Sex
Another one from James Altucher. It is about taking two totally unrelated idea and letting them conjugate. Usually it gives birth to an interesting lead and perspective. If you find it usable, that is a bonus.
#6 Idea Calculator
Though not exactly an idea generating tool, but worth an attempt. Neville of Kopywriting Kourse suggests valuing our ideas if it fun, profitable and easy. Only if an idea scores better on this criteria, act on it.
Proposed as an alternative to brainstorming process usually in a business meetings. As an introvert I highly like it, though my colleagues may not find it appetizing enough.
#8 Redbull Thinking
In his book, ‘Disruptive thinking’, author talks about how Redbull created an unique market niche for itself by inversing the existing criteria for a cool drink. Unlike a regular soft drink, it is not soft – there is equal amount of caffeine as it has sugar, it is not tasty and priced high. Inspired by inverse thinking concept.