Where do ideas come from?
It isn’t easy to achieve success by the book if there is a limit to resources. In situations like these, good ideas can change the game.
Ideas can be game-changers for success
Information, knowledge, skills, and know-how are the main intellectual factors needed when working. Information refers to the acquired data, and knowledge is a result of studying the information. Skills, on the other hand, cannot be obtained by just studying. It requires concentration and effort to build. Lastly, know-hows come from experiencing skills first-hand and need some time to be mastered.
Where in this chain of factors do ideas play a role? Ideas are closely knit to skill and know-how. We don’t need ideas to study and gain knowledge. But ideas can solve problems and overcome obstacles that come up while we develop our skills or master know-hows. When there are limited resources, it is difficult to win the competition by the book. Meanwhile, good ideas can lead to the right skills and know-how that ultimately wins the game.
So, how do good ideas come about? Here are four ways to think of good ideas.
Four ways to generate good ideas
Ideas are patterns
There are many methodologies for generating good ideas, but the most well-known is the TRIZ theory. TRIZ systematically redefines and categorizes inventions under the perspective that “Every invention in the world is of the system.” Meaning, it reinterprets similar external situations from a different perspective – like rotating a figure 180 degrees and seeing it from different angles. Ideas usually form by following such existing patterns.
Discard the fixed idea
There is a famous anecdote on breaking fixed ideas to solve a problem. In the 4th century B.C., the leader of Macedonia declared that any man that could untie an intricately tied knot would be king. Alexander the Great, instead of struggling to untie the knot, solved the problem by slicing the knot with a single stroke of his sword. The story illustrates the act of drastically changing the conditions to reach a solution. Some may call it foul play. But as long as it solves the problem, couldn’t it be considered innovative?
As such, we must evaluate whether the conditions can be changed when coming up with an idea. What seems to be a predetermined condition may be false. Other times, we may get stuck by assumptions and fail to think outside the box.
Do not start with over-assessments
Our judgment may be clouded when we first encounter a problem. There may be a single core problem. But every small issue surrounding it tends to look important, making it difficult to make a decision. In such situations, it is best not to make hasty judgments but to take some time and think. We often regret later saying, “I should have given it more thought!” In the same way, better judgment and ideas can come with time.
Smooth communication is essential
Let’s say two people are having a serious conversation, and one person starts looking at their phone. The other person is bound to get upset because it seems that the other is regarding the discussion with less sincerity. After that, the conversation probably won’t go any further. Even if an idea comes up in such a situation, it would be challenging to build it into a successful outcome.
Projects are no different. There is no point in running a project where its participants can’t communicate. Good ideas can only develop from the thoughts of like-minded and well-communicated people.