How to Come Up With Great Ideas

Whatever your job title, industry or even hobby, you’re almost always going to need to come up with good ideas.

For me, there’s nothing less inspiring than actively trying to think of a good idea. My best ideas come to me while I’m working on something else, watching a film or brushing my teeth. Any time except when I’m trying to think of them.

It would be great if we could just sit around, waiting for great ideas to strike, but for most of us, that’s just not a reality.

Here are 4 expert tips on how to come up with ideas…

1. Be childish

At an Advertising Week Panel, Amy Hodgins-Carvajal, creative director at Publicis Kaplan Thaler, claimed that children are the most creative people in the world.

Therefore, in order to be our most creative selves, and come up with best ideas, we need to be in touch with our inner child…

According to Hodgins-Carvajal:

“Kids aren’t self-editing… They have a very fresh perspective. They’re proud of their ideas. They want to share them. We come up with our ideas in the same way that children play. It’s a playful environment, and we make it a really fun atmosphere, where people are encouraged to share and aren’t overly criticized.”

Takeaway: Encourage your colleagues to have fun with ideas, and throw anything they think of out there, no matter how silly it may seem. There’s no need to criticize the bad ideas as this is a sure fire way to put people off speaking up in the future.

2. Stay connected with life

According to Angela Benton, CEO and Founder of NewME Accelerator, businesspeople often lose touch with their creative sides. Benton suggests nurturing your creativity by embracing the arts regularly.

She also says it’s easy to become so wrapped up with your workload and responsibilities and miss out on great ideas…

“Simply be present in life. I’m sure you can relate to how overconnected we all are. Something as simple as having a cup of coffee becomes a juggling act of replying to emails and managing schedules. It’s easy to miss a potential piece to your innovation puzzle when it’s right under your nose if you aren’t there.”

Takeaway: Make sure you take them time to enjoy the world you live in and take a break every now and then. Staying in touch with the world around you will help to keep your mind open and your creative juices flowing.

3. Don’t dismiss bad ideas

Unfortunately, not all of your ideas will be good.

Writer, Ali Luke, thinks that you shouldn’t be so hasty to dismiss bad ideas, they might come back to help you later…

“One idea often leads to a whole train of thought – and you might end up with a really good idea from something which seemed, at first glance, unpromising.”

Takeaway: Keep a note of all of your ideas, no matter how silly, far-fetched or even boring they might seem. When you’re lacking inspiration, take a look back over your old ideas – they might trigger something amazing.

4. Don’t try to be unique

“An idea is nothing more or less than a new combination of old elements.” – James Webb Young, A Technique for Producing Ideas

Belle Beth Cooper explores how we can use existing elements to come up with new ideas in this post for Buffer

“Since ideas are made from finding relationships between existing elements, we need to collect a mental inventory of these elements before we can start connecting them… Preparing your brain for the process of making new connections takes time and effort. We need to get into the habit of collecting information that’s all around us so our brains have something to work with.

James offers a couple of ideas in his book, such as using index cards to organize and distill information into bite-sized pieces. Another suggestion is to use a scrapbook or file, and cross-index everything so you can find what you need, when you need it.”

Takeaway: Collect and record information on topics relevant to the ideas you want so you can look over it later as inspiration.

How do you come up with your best ideas? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Krassy Can Do It via Compfight cc