How to Manufacture Ideas Like a Pro

POST DATE Mar 12, 2015

AUTHOR Nicole Larson

My mind is like a gumball machine full of ideas on a regular basis.

Do you remember how video rental stores (yes, back when VHS tapes were around) would have those big gumball machines full of rainbow coloured gumballs, plus the odd black one mixed in? The chances of getting the black gumball were pretty small, but if your quarter pulled that black piece of gum, you won a free movie rental. You know, I don’t think I ever did get a black gumball…

On some days I have hundreds of ideas flowing through my mind at once. This can be exhausting, but it can also be exhilarating. I’ve found that I need to teach myself to organize all these ideas in order to create something effective from them.

So how do I find my big ideas in the first place?

I’m not picky when it comes to brainstorming. Just like when you’re writing something, you throw all of your thoughts on the page -- there is no such thing as perfect at this stage! Stop looking for the perfect idea and instead, honour each and every one of them. The more we suppress thoughts and ideas, the more our creatively gets smothered.

So think of your ideas as a manufacturing organization.

1. Raw Material.

Write down everything and anything. Take a step back and review what you have put down on paper. You can then choose what makes the second cut. This is also referred to by most people as “brainstorming”.

2. Categorize.

Decide which ideas you can utilize. I like to categorize them into topics such as;

A. Flawless clean slate, something that is easy to work with and create something out of.

B. Has some scratches. The scratches are easily buffed out and still useable for my needs. I will usually keep these for later to work on when I am having a hard time thinking up new ideas.

C. Maybe later. These ideas I usually put on the back burner as they need a lot of work. Poor little guys!

3. Shape.

This is when I take my A Ideas (Flawless Clean Slates) and start bringing them to life. If you have more than one A idea, just focus on one at a time. You will want to create an outline of the direction you are headed. Picture your idea as if it were a lump of clay, it’s now time to create the initial shape of the object. This is usually when the real creativity starts to flow. Ask yourself, “Where will this idea take me?” and “What will it result in?”

4. Design.

In my opinion, this is the fun part because you start to see progress. Start adding your details and specifications of how you’re going to execute your idea, and add some flair for good measure. Let your creativity flow and don’t hold back! There’s plenty of time for finesse and fine-tuning later.

5. Get a Second Opinion.

I like someone to look at my work, and tell me what they see. This ensures that my work is being heard or seen in the way I intended. Sometimes it is hard to take a step back and see what others see. I am a big fan of constructive criticism – the key word being “constructive”. So ask a trusted friend or colleague to help you out and offer their opinion.

6. Finesse.

This is your time to edit, tweak, buff and shine your creation. This is always a challenging time for me because I tend to over-correct, and become an ineffective perfectionist. This means I usually fuss over small things so much that I make bigger mistakes. You have already done all the hard work, so take this time to relish in what you have created from your little gumball idea and make only minimalist changes. If you struggle with this like I do, it always helps me to move onto something else (or take a nap!) and come back later to finish up the fine touches.

7. Let it Shine.

Show the world, show your friends, show your Mom and Dad! Show anyone who will listen! Be proud and let your work shine, and always defend your creation. No matter how big or small your platform is, you still created something awesome. Even if that awesome thing you made just means that you learnt a lot, that’s okay! Learning is awesome too, and absolutely essential for personal or professional growth.

Embrace your ideas and let them flourish. Ideas are limitless so let yours out. They’ve been known to change the world!

Do you have any techniques for brainstorming you would like to share?



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