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Where can your ideas come from?

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I’ve written a few times about the kind of environments that are conducive to idea generation.  Most of the time this involves being in environments where your focus can wander a little bit, whether that’s in a noisy coffee shop or a dimly lit room.

Aside from the physical conditions that are conducive to creativity however, there are probably a number of areas that will be fertile ground in your hunt for new ideas.

Things that excite you

An obvious first place to start is something you’re passionate about.  In my case, cycling and the various analogies it brings to other fields of life can be a productive place to begin the hunt for ideas that can cross over into new domains.

Copying from other fields

As you can perhaps imagine from my writing here, I’m a big fan of taking insights from various, seemingly unrelated, fields and pulling them back into your own.

As such, I very much advocate constantly scanning the horizon for interesting things that are happening.  A good process to go through when doing this is as follows:

  1. Scan the horizon to identify what is happening, both in your industry and others
  2. Identify and articulate the way any innovation you find is meeting a particular need
  3. Consider alternative needs that could be helped by that innovation, or alternatively different innovations that could satisfy the original needs

Tap into your angst

One of the most successful sources for new ideas is when something about the way we experience a product or service at the moment pisses us off in some way.

This dissatisfaction with the world around us can be a fabulous source of motivation, as by their very nature, each problem that we encounter in life is an opportunity to do it better.

Open your eyes to these and you’ll almost certainly discover a whole world of things that could be improved upon.

Make things cheaper

There’s a frequent stream of ideas and concepts to make products more valuable, but the reverse is an increasingly important source of new ideas.  This kind of frugal innovation mushroomed in popularity as the recession forced many of us to make do with a lot less than we previously did.

These are just a few of the areas that you can use to harvest ideas that are right in front of your eyes.  Let me know if you have any sources that have been good for you in the past.

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