How to Have Creative Ideas
Would you like to have more creative ideas and solutions to
problems? Perhaps you want to exercise more creativity in solving
issues at work. Or you might just like the thought of being the
one with the most interesting ideas the next time you are with
a group of friends. Whatever your motivation, you can quickly
generate creative ideas using simple techniques, starting with
the one presented here.
1. Change Size
Ask how things could be bigger or smaller and what the advantages
would be. How could a refrigerator be smaller, and how would
that be useful? Maybe a small, high-power, countertop drink cooler?
Put a can of soda in it for a minute, and it's icy cold.
2. Consider Opposites
Suppose that instead of being bad for your teeth, candy was
actually good for them? Could a candy be developed that prevented
tooth decay and perhaps even strengthened teeth? Suppose exercise
wasn't necessary to strengthen muscles? Could the muscle-building
process that takes place from exercise be somehow duplicated
without the exercise?
3. Look at Extremes
All action scenes would be too much action in a movie, right?
This extreme suggests the problem of how to have the right amount
- of action and other elements. Maybe a study of past movies,
measuring their financial success in relation to various elements,
could be used to determine an "ideal" movie formula.
4. Mentally Move Things
I was looking at the exhaust fan in the bathroom and imagining
it over the shower. This immediately suggested that there might
be less steaming up of the mirror if the fan was closer to the
source of the steam. A pillow on top of the CD player suggests
the idea of subliminal self-help pillows that turn on the messages
whenever there is pressure on the pillow.
5. Challenge the Known
Most people assume poverty causes higher crime rates, but
there are places where there is more poverty and less crime.
What are some possible explanations, and how could these hypothesis
be tested? Do houses really need windows? What about video screens
with prettier views, broadcast from cameras that the user subscribes
6. Randomly Combine
A radio-controlled plane and a small surveillance camera,
put together in my mind, suggests a new way to look at climbing
routes on mountains.
7. Work with Silly Ideas
I was wondering what would happen if two strong gusts of wind
going in opposite directions met. Would they cancel each other
out, or what? A silly thought, but it triggered the idea of a
car with high-powered fans that send a sheet of air from the
front end out to the roof above the windshield. Would the oncoming
air follow this "virtual surface," making the car more
8. Look for Other Uses
I made a good lightweight backpacking hat from a sleeve of
an old thermal shirt. You can pan for gold with a frisbee. The
idea of getting stronger muscles from exercise could be applied
to getting stronger financial abilities by exercising them. How
many other uses can you think of for a chair?
9. Random Alterations
What if you were to change the steering wheel on a racing
boat? How else could you steer? Could two foot pedals that steered
the boat be a more intuitively comfortable way to steer? Just
apply more pressure to the foot on the side you want to turn
towards. This leaves your hands free for other controls.
10. New Applications
The science of behavior economics, found that adding a more
expensive stove to the selection in a store increased the sales
of the stove that was previously the most expensive. How can
this principle, called "extremeness aversion," be applied
to other areas? For example, if you were trying to get volunteers
for a trail-restoration project, would adding a six-day-per month
option get more people to volunteer for the one-weekend-per month
Some techniques will yield nothing when applied to a particular
area, while others will be perfect for that situation or problem.
For this reason, it helps to have many creative idea-generating
tools in your arsenal. You can start with the techniques for
new ideas listed here.