How to have a Good Idea

I’m part consultant, part author. In both roles, I have to come up with new ideas – and they have to be good ones. So there’s one question people very often ask me:

‘How do you have a Good Idea?’

Well, a Good Idea can feel like it’s come from nowhere. But there’s actually a very specific process that can help you come up with one:

Understand your problem

Good Ideas solve problems. And to really solve a problem, you need to understand it. So, dig into your problem. Research it, then write yourself a brief that lays out:

  • What the problem is
  • Why you need to solve it RIGHT NOW
  • Any obstacles you need to overcome to solve it
  • Who’s going to benefit when you do solve it
  • Exactly:
    • what they’re going to get out of it
    • why that’s so important for them

Immerse yourself

Gather lots of information. Find out all you can about every part of your problem. If you can, experience it for yourself. Look for similar problems and see how other people have solved them. Fill your head with useful details.

And don’t stop there. Do some random browsing too. Is there something you’ve always wanted to find out about? Or a favourite book, film, song or whatever else you haven’t listened too for ages? Go and check them out. Indirect information can be as stimulating as directly useful stuff.

Get blasting

Now you’ve understood and explored your problem it’s time to get creative. Blast out as many ideas as you possibly can. Go quickly – you’re trying to explore as many different ways of solving your problem as possible. Don’t judge them – at this stage, there’s no need to. And, most importantly:

  • Go Crazy!

Create ridiculous, absurd, impossible ideas. That’ll help you think beyond the boundaries, and also help you understand where the boundaries really are. Also, you’ll have a lot of fun, and that’ll help even more ideas flow.

Distract yourself

Now stop and go somewhere else entirely, to do something emotionally or imaginatively stimulating that has nothing to do with the Good Idea you want to create. Distract yourself with shiny new things so your subconscious mind can go to work. But don’t forget your notebook. Because…

The magic moment

Round about now, everything should come together and a truly Good Idea will just pop up in your head. It can happen anywhere, at any time, so be ready for it! Or you might look back over all the ideas you’ve already had, and realise that one of them is just perfect.

Make it even better

Your Good Idea is a wonderful, precious thing. But it’s also brand new. So, live with it for a bit. Test it against your brief. See if it needs a little polishing up. And then bounce it off a few people you trust. Talk them through your brief, then ask them how well they think your Good Idea works.

And that’s that! Happy Good Idea creating…

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