Chris Baréz-Brown conjures up 10 steps to help you spark your best ideas – no sleight of hand required!
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If there is one question that is guaranteed to come up in conversations on creativity, it is: where do you have your best ideas? Having asked that question to thousands of people over the years, I can say that topping the inspirational moments chart is taking a shower, swiftly followed by walking the dog, lying in bed, travelling, and running or cycling.
But far more instructive is the fact that, by comparison, inspiration never hits when people are sitting at their desks trying to think of an idea. This is easy enough to understand. When we are relaxed and engaged in simple activities that we enjoy, we access more of our intuitive creativity and therefore ideas come easier.
But ideas will remain at the it’s-just-an-idea stage without execution. And both imagination and engineering the result take effort. So, making it easier to get ideas and then turn those into reality should be a critical focus for any business looking to innovate beyond thecompetition.
The question is, of course, how? Here are 10 guiding principles to help this process.
The human mind has two main ways of thinking. One is with the logical, rational, analytical part of the brain, which we spend all our time using but which accesses only a small amount of the overall mental capacity that most people have.
The creative state, on the other hand, can quickly use huge parts of that capacity, but it is accessed by relaxing and having fun. So, when trying to have ideas, get away from your desk to a place that makes you feel more human and that immerses you. Ideas will naturally come more easily.
This will likely be very idiosyncratic, and this should be embraced. Individual creativity is precisely that – individual.
Talk it out
A surefire way to access a creative state is to head out with a friend or colleague to a cafe or for a walk, and talk nonstop at them about your idea for 20 minutes. Every now and again you’ll say something that feels interesting or is borne of genuine insight.
Many businesses now use this approach instead of traditional brainstorming and it has produced such positive results that there is now a social enterprise that’s free for anyone to use.
Sleep on it – for a week
If you need to refine a rough concept, try pondering your idea before you go to sleep. Then as soon as you wake up, write down whatever it is you’re thinking about. If you do that for five days in a row, you’ll find the stuff that comes to you in the morning will become more and more useful.
The science here is fascinating – this process communicates to your subconscious that you’re interested in what it’s telling you. And as a result, the subconscious begins to evolve – rapidly.
Visual representations of ideas are a superb way to get a handle on the first step in making them a reality. It really is as simple as getting a big piece of paper and some coloured pens and then doodling. The critical point is to use the paper as an expansive tool to get stuff out of your head. In this regard, size matters.
Make sure the paper is at least A3, and that you have lots of it, so when it doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter.
Make it 3D
If pictures are a great evolution of words, then modelling is the playground of creative kings. If you are developing something physical, play around and build a prototype. The most amazing inventions have come from very little. The computer mouse came from a weekend modelling with a butter dish and a roll-on deodorant.
About the author
Chris Baréz-Brown is the founder of Upping Your Elvis, helping businesses become more human, energetic and creative through workshops, talks and events.