A Technique for Producing Ideas (Advertising Age Classics Library) by James Webb Young
I got onto it via a blog that recommended it as a complete classic and an excellent example of how to produce ideas.
Being an idea-junkie myself – I pounced. I often find that while ideas, innovation and change are valued in business, we rarely examine how these ideas come about. Instead we label someone as being great at coming up with ideas, or being crap. In reality there’s a process for coming up with ideas, and if you work at it, you’ll get it.
If you like this idea-making side of creativity then I also recommend giving Hey Whipple a read – another fab creative book and one that describes a creative process that is very, very similar to the one below.
Enough from me…
Summary – five step technique for producing ideas!
(headings = mine, quotes = directly from the book)
Firstly understand that an idea is just a combination of the old
“The first of these has already been touched upon in the quotation from Pareto: namely, that an idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old elements.”
(and before you launch into the five steps I would add that you need to know what problem you are trying to solve – what is your goal?)
Step one: do your research
“The first of these steps is for the mind to gather its raw material.”
Step two: think on it
“What you do is to take the different bits of material which you have gathered and feel them all over, as it were, with the tentacles of the mind. You take one fact, turn it this way and that, look at it in different lights, and feel for the meaning of it.”
Step three: when you tire of the above, drop it completely
“In this third stage you make absolutely no effort of a direct nature. You drop the whole subject and put the problem out of your mind as completely as you can.” (the author refers to this as turning it over to the unconscious mind later on)
Step four: idea arrives!
“Now, if you have really done your part in these three stages of the process you will almost surely experience the fourth. Out of nowhere the Idea will appear.”
Step five: announce to the world (or at least your team) + execute
“Do not make the mistake of holding your idea close to your chest at this stage. Submit ti to the criticism of the judicious. When you do, a surprising thing will happen. You will find that a good idea has, as it were, self-expanding qualities. It stimulates those who see it to add to it. Thus possibilities in it which you have overlooked will come to light.”
For a bit more on the process, check out the book here.