Creative commands for your mental keyboard, programmed to increase your effectiveness at innovation.
Do not underestimate the importance of a home base from which to create ideas. A favorite space that fosters your creative spirit and surrounds you with resources to feed your innovative energy. Windows, posters, books on creativity, fun games and toys, etc. can all serve to spark your creativity and give you ‘permission’ to free your spirit of innovation.
The Escape Key helps you think outside the box. Get out of your cube, office, or boardroom. Escape to a park or coffeeshop or amusement park. Have your brainstorm session at the zoo or a pub or putt-putt course. Your ideas will be bigger, better, and a helluva lot more fun.
What outside ideas, influences, and opinions can you introduce into your brainstorm session? What does skateboarding have in common with your situation? What similarities can you find between the ballet and opening your new bakery? Can you come up with a metaphor that connects owning a pet with building your sales of propane and propane accessories?
Shift gears, change focus, and reframe your problem. Rephrasing your challenge using different words will also change the kinds of ideas you’re generating. Shifting your perception of the problem — coming up with ideas on ‘how to earn more money’ versus ‘how do we spend less money’ allows new ideas to emerge.
Take a step back and review the ideas you’ve already generated. Perhaps you’ll have to hit the Backspace key several times. If you find that you’re creating ideas to solve the wrong problem, you may need to go back and start your list of ideas from the very beginning.
6. CAPS LOCK
Get excited… ALL CAPS CAN INDICATE SHOUTING! Amp-up your energy level. Make sure you’ve got a positive attitude before starting a brainstorm session. If you’re mood is positive, anything is possible. If you’re feeling down and depressed, you’re not going to come up with any ideas that you believe will offer an effective solution. Read some positive affirmations from Paulo Coelho’s “Warrior of the Light” or “Napoleon Hill’s Positive Action Plan” or Jeffrey Gitomer’s “Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude” before you schedule a brainstorming session. If those messages don’t press your internal Caps-Lock, it’s better to postpone until you’re in a better mood.
Take time-out during your idea generation session to reflect upon the ideas you’ve collected. Review your list and find concepts that can be explored further. Build upon one of the ideas and create a new branch on your mindmap, fully exploring every path down which you travel will generate many more ideas from which you can choose your solution.
What can you alter about a few of your ideas in order to multiply that single idea into a dozen? If ‘offer free delivery’ is one of your ideas, alter and expand upon that single concept to generate a variety of related ideas: free next-day delivery, delivered within 30-minutes or it’s free, deliver each order with a special gift, deliver the order within non-traditional packaging, orders are delivered by singing telegram, orders are delivered by a guy in a gorilla costume, orders are delivered by celebrity lookalikes…
Know when to stop. The purpose of a brainstorm session isn’t to suck your brain dry of every possible idea — it’s simply to get a group of stimulated minds together in order to generate as many ideas as possible. Extending a session until you feel like you’re literally wringing your brain to squeeze out some last nugget of information isn’t very pleasant, and certainly won’t make you want to participate in future brainstorm exercises! In order to avoid writer’s block, authors have been told to stop a writing session while they still feel like they have something to say. I think it’s so they know where to pick-up the next time they pick up a pen. The same principle applies to brainstorming. It’s okay to end a session while there are still some ideas flying, just ask the participants to scribble down any new ideas they have after the session and send them to you. It’s a sure way to virtually guarantee they come up with another 3 or 4 ideas after the meeting has adjourned, rather than beating every last idea out of them while they’re in the room and only releasing them after they feel exhausted and happy to have escaped!