Monday, March 25, 2013

A Technique for Producing Ideas

From "A Technique for Producing Ideas" by James Webb Young
Two Principles

  1.  An Idea is a new combination
  2. The ability to make new combinations is heightened by an ability to see relationships

Step One: Gather Raw Material

Specific: those pertaining to the item you are looking to generate items about, in detail
General: a continuous ongoing process of browsing and accumulating knowledge of every subject you could not be interested in.
An idea will result from a combination of specific item (product, people) information with general knowledge about life and events. Having a usable store of general material means continually seeking out and noting what you do not already know.

Step Two: Find Relationships

Seek and compile direct and oblique combinations of the gathered materials.

Direct: those that “make sense”
Oblique: those that you would not have considered, or better yet, consider “funny”

Step Three: Let it Percolate

Key to this step is element three of Cleese’s Creativity Keys: Time. Take time to endure the process past the easy and facile answers through to the truly creative ideas that come later. This may even mean “leaving it alone” for a while and coming back to it later, letting it percolate in your subconscious. During the break, do something that feeds your creativity.

Step Four: Seize the ideas as they arrive

Ideas will appear at times and places that you do not expect, and often in forms you do not recognize. They must be seized and recorded.

Step Five: Test your ideas for anti-fragility

Let respected and trusted others examine and manipulate your ideas. See what works and what it would take to make it work. Ideas that are fragile will crumble—good ideas will be anti-fragile and grow under the pressure of examination. Others will expand and strengthen them.