What this post is about: This post is about the book “How to Get Ideas by Jack Foster” and my thoughts and Ideas while reading the book.
Warning: This is a very lengthy post, spare me for this long post.
The word Creativity has always triggered emotions inside me. I always wanted to work in the field which had creativity attached to it. One such field which attracted me was ad film making.
I had all plans to get into it full time, and I was excited. Destiny, here I am writing down my thoughts on the book written by the person who spent most of his lifetime in advertising field.
Coming to the book. I have read it 4 times. First time I read it 3 years ago and after couple of months re read it. Now after 2 years gap re read it twice with an gap of 15 days.
I have an habit of reading books like you all. But for me the books which tells great stories or which throws in surprise page after page or the one which makes me think are the ones which makes me pick and read them.
Those books which are just fillers with no real depth or interesting stuff in it are those which I run away from.
This book “How To Get Ideas” is the first book which I read on getting ideas. This book has soft corner in my heart and it is really more worthy than price it is sold for.
Books. Who doesn’t like browsing searching for the books in book store and buying an book is such an divine feeling. But one day while searching to buy an personality development book this thought poured into my mind. That is if you think rationally
- Why do one need n number of Personality development books. Rationally thinking one or two book should be enough to achieve whatever we want in this lifetime.
- Even if you are not reading any books, in my way, if you know these things then most of things can be achieved. [PURELY IN MY OPINION]
- A) Goals: How to set Short term and long term goals.
- B) Diversions: and ways it is troubling you and ways to avoid them.
- C) Wasting time: Listing things which eat your time and reducing them consciously day by day the way addicts get out of their addiction. Even wasting time is an addiction.
- D) Discipline: It all boils down to this. Can you promise yourself and work day in day out on your goal without stopping for whatever reason. If yes success will surely knock your door.
Things in Italic are taken directly from the book and the bold ones in small letters are my thoughts which popped up while gulping the pages of the book. Before diving deep into the book, lets me first answer the below 3 questions.
Knowing answers to the below questions is important. I mean very very important.
Question No: 1 is Why we need Ideas ?
1) Monetary benefits – Money Honey.
2) Internal/Personal satisfaction – The proud feeling of coming up with something new.
3) Part of one’s job – You are paid to show off your intelligence.
4) To help others – Why god made humans and gave brains, so that we can understand other’s sufferings or problems and help each other.
5) To solve a problem – yours or other’s.
6) To show off intelligence – This is something so divine, I mean for being called as an very intelligent person. Nobody wants to look dumb in the eyes of people.
7) Recognition, Appreciation etc… – Common not all are liberated, to work day in day out without any appreciation or recognition.
Question No:2 is When do Ideas come out of mind?
Before answering this, let me tell you what I went through before I started getting Ideas.
I was keenly looking for something big to do, the thing which would settle my life forever financially. At that state of mind while I was searching I came across Mobile gaming industry. Wow man should I say it’s real gold mine, believe me it is. It’s for those who have the knack to crack it and take it.
I got goose bumps seeing the money made by few games and I took oath to try gaming field let whatever happens. I had no experience whatsoever about gaming field, apart from few games which I had played in my mobile.
I had an simple plan. Sit for 1 hour decide on the genre of game, check few top games, write down few game ideas and get it developed, launch and market it and It will lead to richness, retire with that money. Hmmm… you know how wrong I was.
When I started writing, I realized how difficult it was to come up with an good idea, at least in my eyes.
I took few steps back and took out all the creativity and idea generation related books which I had and started reading them, days passed by and still there was no convincing ideas.
I kept doing the same process of reading the creativity books and trying to come up with ideas. Almost after 6 – 8 months of on and off of reading and thinking on game ideas, Finally I started getting some ideas which were better at least in the first look. Some satisfaction enough to treat myself for something yummy.
With that high feeling, I started working more on the game idea only to realize that there was nothing fancy or wow factor about my previous game ideas, when looked through magnifying glass.
Again an wave of disappoint striked me.
Instead of looking for another Idea, suddenly I got this question When do I get ideas?
I took paper, pen and started thinking of all the times where in I got an Idea and the situation which triggered them to come.
I am not sure whether this is generic, but it has worked for me. There are no side effects and you can safely try it at home.
Feel free to try and leave your comments on which worked for you, same can be tried by me and other readers.
- Listening to songs :This was an accidental discovery. One day I was quite exhausted and I instead of working on game ideas I started listening to some nice songs. I got so involved in the listening, I couldn’t just stop them and work on my ideas. With the intention of not to waste time, I just took the notepad and glanced at the ideas which I had written on the paper. When something nice is running in background, your perception of looking things will change. I felt some ideas to be good and some to be worse. I tried to improve the ones which had more scope. Surprisingly I started to realize that I was getting more ideas and more ideas. I got excited. Wow what is happening, I am getting ideas, I might have got around 3-4 ideas in that slot and I was very satisfied and I discovered what made my mind produce ideas. I don’t know internally what triggered ideas to come out, was it feel good factor of songs or the feeling of enjoying work or the sounds altering or triggering specific parts of brain. Whatever the reason it worked and from that day, I have used this method to generate ideas.
2. Random Input while discussing What I noticed is whenever when I was telling my idea to someone, their suggestion / general discussion / questioning triggered more ideas inside me and the more resistance or criticism which was showed at my idea, It made me improve my idea further and further until I got a nod from them.
Recent example is when I and my friend were discussing about the game idea and how to make it better. His some words made me come up with few more additions and changes to make the game even more better. Also it triggered a completely new game idea in me.
- Going through Other’s implemented Ideas Whenever I read about new idea or website, that in turned used to trigger many ideas in me. That way I got many website ideas. [Please forgive me if it feels like I am bragging too much about myself. I am not, it’s the fact which I am telling. Only reason for me stressing out is, find out where and what situation you get ideas and create the same situation and you will be surprised that you will be able to produce more ideas than what you normally produce when not in those circumstances]
- When watching interviews of Entrepreneurs. I was watching one game developers interview and although I was suppose to observe the presentation, somehow my eyes went on the picture which was on his t shirt, which triggered a game idea in me. All our senses play their part in getting an idea out of our brain for us. So feed them, use them.
- Words words [This is well know method of generating ideas] It works for most of them and it worked for me too. Words not only express something, not only they trigger emotions, they also give you ideas. I tried this way. I took a list of 100 random words which were verbs or which I liked and started using them like adding two words are using a word to think of a game idea.
In another post I will do what I call as an practical method of idea generation. My first topic of choice is “How to get more traffic to the website”.
I will list all the methods/tools available for Idea generation and will use those methods to list the ideas that come out for the topic.
- Information / Information [Again this is an know way to trigger ideas] You need lot of information to have new ideas. This had worked for me very well. I needed more and more information on the game development and the games for me to come up with more and more quality game ideas. It’s like showing an photo of rocket and few lines about rocket to biology student and telling him to come up with new ideas for the rocket design or to solve rocket related problems.
He will be as awe struck as one will be when struck by lightning.
Instead if the same biology person is given enough information about the process of rocket design, purpose, material used, speed in which it goes, gravitational force, distance it has to travel, the process of launch, the way it is controlled, from the early rocket designed to the latest one, all the rocket launch history with their failure and success case studies, improvements which has happened in rocket design from the early rocket to the modern rocket. Then with this information the ideas which comes out of his mind would be definitely much better than those which he would get just by looking at the picture and few lines about rocket.
Same way I prepared my own checklist to gather information on games. Below is the list for reference
- List top 10 most successful recent mobile games [the ones launched in past 5 years].
- Read interviews about each of the game from the above list and look out for the way the ideas was got.
- Play the games and write down the fresh thoughts which you get out of the games.
- Write down the things which you feel made them successful or what is the thing which might be the reason for their success.
- Read much more about the developers, studio or company and the process of their game development
- List out the tools used by them for the development of game and their approach to game development.
- List out their marketing strategy and their way of Monetization. Are they paid games, or are they relying heavily on in app purchases or ads alone.
- Are they coming up with something new in their game / marketing / design / theme / level design / interaction etc
- Find the common themes between all the successful games, find out the words or themes in the game which is making them addictive or successful.
- Come up with ways to make the game better, look at it as freshly as possible. Imagining that the same game was given to me to make it better or to come up with the second version of the game, what could be done to improve it in every possible aspect.
- List all the things which you didn’t like, be as specific as you can. The list should cover all the topics from design / layout of the menus / music / levels / in app purchases / flow of the levels / colors used in the game / font of the text / size of the objects etc.
- Finally bring it down to one thing which you feel that made the game successful and use that as means to come up with many ideas.
I ended up doing this kind of task for more than 10 games.
I will give one example over here. You might have played or heard of “Flappy Bird” which rose to stardom and the game was developed in less than a week and one point of time it was making $50,000 dollars a day.
After reading numerous interviews and after going through the game screenshots, I narrowed down to look in different angles at one thing which made the game successful (according to me) i.e. “Tapping”.
An simple tap can be used to make a game so addictive. I said to myself wow. I started working on game ideas where in Tapping can be used and also it should make sense for being used.
If you are keenly following iOS gaming u might have noticed that the same tapping functionality has produced few more hit games like Crossy Road / Mr Jump
One thing I have to say, Idea is worth nothing [NOTHING] when it is kept to our self. Everyone gets lot of ideas in their life time, from some silly ones to life changing ideas, but it boils down to implementation.
The courage to take idea forward and the discipline / hard work required to implement is what matters.
It’s like having all the best material to make chocolate chip cookies. From dough to nuts to chocolate chips to oven to everything required. If you don’t use those material in proper way you will never end up with making the chocolate chip cookie, even if you have the best recipe in the world.
Ever wondered why you have not changed even after reading so many personality development books or ever wondered why you have not got ideas even after reading so many idea related books. If you have not, I wondered and for me that question WHY I was not getting benefited resulted in the way I started reading books.
What I learnt is Our task doesn’t end by reading a book from cover to cover. It actually starts from the time we take the book into our hand till the purpose which we started reading it is fulfilled.
Let me take the example with which I took my favorite book into hand again. I listed out what was the process of my reading and what happened actually after the book was read.
My initial way of reading was
1) Take the book, read from page to page. If any idea comes up while reading the book write it down sincerely and continue reading the book.
2) Once the book is complete feel proud of yourself for reading the book and put it back in the shelf and expect to remember whatever was read and try not implement whatever the author said and expect miracles to happen
The problem which I was facing was
1) First point of reading the book from page to page was right. Even writing down the ideas was also a good thing.
2) The second point is where I was completely wrong. Each book has a list of tasks / suggestions for readers to do, I never did those nor I was able to remember those task.
My new method of reading the book
1) Whatever the book is FIRST READ will be like how one reads an story book, enjoying the book that is what you paid money and bought it for and if u get any ideas in your first read write it down.
2) SECOND READ is to write down every sentence which feels good in a notepad.
3) THIRD READ go through the notepad instead of the book, condense the copied / typed notes into bullet points and put it in excel and track it.
4) FINAL POINT complete all the task in the book before picking another book to read.
Ex: In “How to get ideas” authors says “Get Out of Your Rut” to get ideas. He means to do the things which you don’t do. Read the book to know what he means.
Below picture has some small screenshot of the way I make task list and go further in doing it. It’s not complete. If you want complete list of tasks which I created and implemented along with the complete list of ideas which I got from reading “How to get Ideas”, then it will cost you just 5 dollars”.
Also the other method is slow reading method. For me it works like this, if I am reading more faster than mind can pause and think, it will only become emotional / surprising read without much outcome. Instead when I read bit slowly pausing [this pause I do only when some sentence or words make me think, it should also be unconscious thinking, that is the time where you stop staring at book and start thinking],wherever the words makes me to, I get some new thoughts and sometimes Ideas too.
Tip: For me slow, paused reading and thinking has given me results. Try it.
Below is the summary of the book, but I highly recommend you to buy and read the book. My sincere request is to buy the book, from whichever website or means you like. It’s really having very good advice and its many 100 times worth the money you spend on it.
An single idea is more than enough to get more than 1000x times of the book price.
Hmm let me give an example. Recently while I was searching for niche for my other blog , I came across an article which literally blew my mind out, I mean it shattered my mind by seeing the power of an Idea.
An guy comes up with an idea which leads to him earning $100 million dollars in 8 months. That is the power of an idea. Sometimes I feel in this complex world there are simple things that is calling us to be picked up / nurtured and presented to the world, those are the ones which shines like glittering gold. You can go through more about him from the below posts, and hope it inspires you to search for an Idea and to grab the next idea related books.
Now is the time to head straight to the book.
As I said earlier Things in bold and italic are as it is taken from the book, rest words which are bold and in smaller font are my thoughts and ideas.
I have kept my thoughts and ideas to minimum so that the length of post doesn’t run into an small book.
Authors give some means / ways to condition our mind to become Idea prone. His 10 ways to condition the mind to become idea prone are below
1) HAVE FUN
Author is basically from advertising industry – I love that field unfortunately couldn’t get any body parts into that field, my soul still cries whenever it reads something on advertising
He says in his company the team which was having more fun came with ideas and he says that fun is very essential for getting those little ideas out.
“make it fun to work at your agency,” said david ogilvy, the head of an advertising agency.
ah, but that’s exactly what an idea too. the unexpected joining of two “old elements” to create a new whole that make sense, “two matrices of thought” (as koestler puts it) meeting at the pass.
After the above quotes, author gives us some examples
someone put fire and food together and got cooking.
sir isaac newton put the tides and the fall of an apple together and got gravity.
levis hutchins put an alarm and a clock together and got an alarm clock.
Author gives some ways the workplace was made more fun.
meet in the park. our office was across the street from a park. once a month or so we’d hold a department meeting there.
family day. once a year, the kids came to see where mom and dad worked.
darts. we put a dart board in our conference room and played darts where we needed a break.
hallway hockey. during lunch hour, we sometimes played hockey in the hallways with really hockey sticks, but with wads of paper for the puck.
Author gives many more examples…. You can enjoy reading them in the book.
My thoughts and Ideas
I am basically from IT and I thought what all fun can be put into my working place, here are some of the things that I thought.
1) A made to order fish tank at my desk and with some good golden fish in it.
2) Long haul ways in IT, why not have slip in skating shoes to move around in office
3) Different style hats for that team members. I mean each team have their own designed set of hats to show that they are one and united forever
4) An segway to roam around in office
5) Change those boring looking meeting rooms into nice looking beach area. Put some sand, put those relaxing chairs and those big umbrellas and direct sunlight and beautiful table and lot of drinks, who will miss meeting then. Well prepared and well conducted meeting will end up with food and drinks.
6) Stressed out, press the buzzer. Each cabin is fitted with a small set of speakers, buzzer will play a random song, only loud enough to be heard within the cabin
2) BE MORE LIKE A CHILD
Author says being and thinking like a child will help in getting ideas and he gives some example of way they child thinks
the adult in you wears a belt and suspenders and looks both ways before crossing the road
Thomas Edison agreed too: “the greatest invention in the world is the mind of a child”
They break rules because they do not know the rules exist. They do odd things that make their adult
parents uneasy. They stand up in the boat and rock it. They shout in church, play with matches, and pound
the piano with their fists.
They constantly see the new relationships among seemingly unrelated things. They paint trees orange
and grass purple, and they hang fire trucks from clouds.
My brain at work
Now also there are very many questions which pop up in my mind and here are those, I am not sure whether they are child like or adult like but they are there for you to like or not to like
1) why can’t just they transfer all the books to our brain and make everyone educated in minutes or days. As everything is all about neural connections and some current passing and making new connections. Whatever why can’t it be created. Rest of living will be based on intelligence in using the knowledge and experience.
2) Can the world be stopped for few minutes. What will happen if that happens
3) Why did man create so many expensive things which are not accessible to most of the people on earth. Is man and his inventions reason for suffering of man kind
whatever you see, ask yourself why it is the way it is. if you don’t get an answer that makes sense, perhaps ther’s room for improvement.
why is your production line setup the way it is?
why does your receptionist sit behind a desk?
why do your business cards, your stationery, your presentation books all look the way they do?
so next time you have a problem to solve or an idea to come up with, ask yourself: “how would i solve this if i were six years old?” “how would i solve if i were four”?
loosen up. run down the hall someday at work. eat an ice cream cone at your desk. take everything out of your desk drawers and put it on the floor for couple of days.
stand up in the boat. and then rock it.
Fun things which I still want to do are
1) I want to hold balloons and fly few feet above the ground, some 100 or 1000 helium balloons enough to air lift me 10 – 30 feet from the ground and an controller to throw away one balloon at a time so that I can land safely on the ground
2) I want to make giant soap bubbles in different word shaped moulds and flow them from top of my office.
Example: Soap bubble of shapes Good Day, Have Fun, Live Free and giant soap bubbles of that shape floating high in the air which everyone driving or walking around can see.
3) BECOME IDEA PRONE
Nobody understands (yet) how your brain—a physical thing—can produce an idea—something that is not physical.
All we know is that it happens. Perhaps it happens to you less often than it does to other people. But since it has happened to you a few times we know that there’s no physical deficiency—no genetic mutation in your brain, for example—that’s preventing you from getting ideas. You can get them. That’s proven.
Author wants us to know that ideas do exist
There’s always another idea, always another solution. Accept it.
Author says that we will find those ideas too
First, you must accept that what you think about yourself is the single most important factor in your success.
If you think of yourself as a failure you will probably become a failure. If you think of yourself as successful you will probably become successful.
Human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes.
So don’t worry about time. Although some ideas take longer to get than others, getting an idea does not depend, strangely enough, upon time. Nor upon workplaces or schedules or even workloads.
I was carrying the above myth for many years. I thought getting Ideas mean an life time process. If one can get few good ideas in his lifetime then he is more superior than any human being, but later after reading the book I realized that there is no time constraint and one can get n number of ideas not in years but in hours.
3) Visualize Success
Experiments with dart throwers showed the same thing—that mentally throwing darts at a target improves aim as much as physically throwing darts at it.
4) REJOICE IN FAILURE
Author gives 5 reasons for us to rejoice in failure
One of them his own about how this book “How to get ideas” was rejected before becoming a reality.
Over a period of two years, I sent the original manuscript for this book to 74 publishers. Every
time I got a rejection, I sent it out to a couple more publishers. The 44th one, Steven Piersanti of Berrett-
Koehler, decided to publish it four months after I sent it to him. (While he was deciding, I sent it to 30 other
6) GET MORE INPUTS
After all, if “a new idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old elements,” it stands to reason that the person who knows more old elements is more likely to come up with a new idea than a person who knows fewer old elements.
A copywriter named Jeff Weakley knew the importance of being curious. He sent me the best resume I ever got. It was in the form of a magazine ad. The illustration showed a man’s head piled high with junk—broken pencils, old tires, bottles, and so on.
The headline said: “Invest in a junk pile.”
The copy said:
I read the labels on Vienna Sausage cans. I have worked as a porn projectionist, a disc jockey, and a door-to-door pot-holder salesman. I once read Freud and watched Laverne and Shirley at the same time. The leader of the King family was named Elmer. I have studied and worked with film, television, radio, and photography. I play sports, speak Spanish, and know the names of all the teeth in my mouth. I have read a lot of books and seen a lot of movies. I know of a disease that causes men to eat dirt, ice, and laundry starch. Most importantly, I know something about Egyptian burial customs and dual-in-line-package 14-pin quad two-input NANS gates.
I’ve always been like that. I’ve created in my mind this giant junk pile of seemingly worthless information. And then I discovered advertising. The junk pile became a treasure overnight.
As I am at the earliest stages of my advertising career, I am offering you the opportunity to invest in this junk pile. For a very good price.
If you’re interested in seeing the rest of my collection, please call.
My Mind at work:
Ok this is 10 minute exercise and my time has started. I will have to think, write and come up with ways to create weird resumes.
Don’t blame me I have only 10 minutes to come up with ideas. I will be using extra 5 minutes just to edit the points, no addition to the ideas will be done. [Oh god time is running 1 minute gone]
1) I would make an paper rocket of my resume and shoot it all over the city in random crowded places.
2) I will put shoe prints of my resume in crowded places where people usually walk to like Mac donalds, KFC etc . The shoe print will have an short resume with email and contact details
3) I will stand outside an expensive book store and offer them free wrappers, little will they know that very good looking wrappers outside is beautiful pictures and textures and inside of it is neatly written resume of mine
4) I will have some 1 minute pre recorded button shaped device, which says out something pre recorded for a minute and I will paste that rubbery sticky button on cars and when pressed it will have my prerecorded voice saying about myself and my job requirements etc
5) I will go in a bus throwing out randomly plastic football size balls on outer wall of the ball is my visual resume
6) Water balloons, I will just throw water balloons at beaches at friendly people and inside the balloon when it gets blasted it will containing an waterproof paper with my resume
7) I will have special car lights which I will put it on when standing in signal. The laser light will display an screen with my resume in it on the floor where all people can see my resume
8) Will give free condoms as an means of social awareness and inside it will have an balloon along with condoms, surprised they will look into it seeing what this balloon doing in midst of condoms and they will only be able to see small letters written on the balloon and when they try read it will be difficult and when they blow it up, they will see my resume. I will have quote like this
“Before your blow job, try to give me some job”.
Ran out of time. I am stopping here, whatever rest I do for the above paragraph will be editing work no addition or deletion.
Coming back to the book author says old elements will help in producing new elements and he explains the ways to get them
Here are two ways to force yourself to get more old elements:
- Get Out of Your Rut
Of course you’re in a rut. Admit it. Why do you think you do the same things the same way in the same order every morning when you wake up? Or have the same thing for breakfast every
day? Or go to work the same way every day? Or always
read the same parts of the newspaper? Or always buy the same things at the supermarket? Or always watch the same TV programs? Or eat the way you eat, or dress the way you dress, or think the way you think, or, or, or?
Listen to a radio station you’ve never listened to before. Study Latin. Order something at a restaurant without knowing
what it is exactly. Check out something on the Internet you think you’ll dislike.
See a play or a movie you think you’ll dislike.
Rent a video you’ve never heard of.
Go to lunch with someone different.
Listen intently to music you don’t like.
Ride the bus for a week.
Learn to read music. Learn sign language.
Learn to make quenelles.
Learn to tie knots.
Take up watercolor painting.
Study Greek. Or Chinese. Or English.
Visit a store, a gallery, a museum, a restaurant, a market, a mall, a building, a place you’ve never visited
7) SCREW UP YOUR COURAGE
As I said, courage and curiosity are the two character traits all creative people seem to have.
But how can we become more courageous?
“We cannot open ourselves to new insights without endangering the security of our prior assumptions. We cannot propose new ideas without risking disapproval and rejection.”
I hope I need not explain in detail, now you have got the flow how the book is flowing.
- There Are No Bad Ideas
Madame Curie had a “bad” idea that turned out to be radium.
Richard Drew had a “bad” idea that turned out to be Scotch tape. Joseph Priestley invented carbonated water while he was investigating the chemistry of the air.
- You Can Always Get Another Idea— Probably Even a Better One
In attempting to make a light bulb, he tried over a thousand ideas before he hit the one that worked.
Ray Bradbury wrote at least one short story every week for ten years before he wrote one that made the hair on his neck stand up.
Orville and Wilbur Wright worked for years trying to build an airplane. For the wings alone, they tested more than 200 designs in a wind tunnel they built.
8) TEAM UP WITH ENERGY
Indeed, of all the advertising ideas I’ve had over the years, I can remember only a few I can honestly call mine and mine alone.
Years ago the Schick Electric Company came to our advertising agency with an assignment. “Here’s something we made a couple of years ago,” the company president said, “and we can’t sell them. Got a warehouse full of the damn things.”
The damn thing was an electrical device that heated cans of shaving cream. All the research showed that men thought it was a great idea. After all, who likes to lather up with cold shaving cream in the morning? But, as the president said, few bought it.
So we looked at the commercials they used to sell the device, wherein men used the product and said how it made shaving easier, and how nice it was to feel warm in the morning.
We liked the commercials. But Jean Craig, one of our copywriters, said: “I know what’s wrong with that advertising. The commercials are beautifully done, but they’re positioning the product all wrong. It’s not something you should be trying to sell to men. It’s something you should sell to women as a gift for men. Every Christmas I’m running around like crazy
trying to find something to buy for my husband. This
So we dubbed it “The Great Gift Invention of [that year]” and did a commercial showing guys waiting in line at a patent office with all sorts of inventions, including ours, which all the other inventors thought was a “great gift invention.”
We put it on the air before Christmas in Chicago and Philadelphia and some other test markets. Bingo.
The stores sold out of the dispensers the first week. We had to cancel the advertising and promise the stores we’d make more of the damn things for next year. Which the company did.
The next year we changed the copy in the commercial to “The Great Gift Invention of [that year],” went into more markets, and the same thing happened. And the next year, too.
By that third year it was delivering more profit to the company than any other product they had. All because one of the people we teamed up with was a positive, energetic woman who had trouble finding a suitable Christmas gift for her husband.
9) Rethink your thinking
Many of the most creative minds in history thought with pictures instead of words.
Albert Einstein said that he rarely thought in words. Notions came to him in images that only later he tried to express in words or formulas.
If they have to do an advertisement on, say Master locks, they don’t think of the lock as a lock, they think of it as a security guard, or as a watch dog, or as an insurance policy for your house or car or jewelry, or as a bodyguard for your children, or as something indestructible like the Rock of Gibraltar.
“Once you get a visual idea,” one of them said to me, “the words are easy.” And he’s right.
You and I were also brought up to think linearly or vertically, to think logically from one point to the next until we reach a sound conclusion, to place one brick on top of another.
In lateral thinking you make jumps. You don’t have to follow the logical path; you can take side trips down alternate roads that seemingly don’t lead anywhere.
Let me give you an example:
A small company was having trouble with tardiness. Every week all twenty employees seemed to be getting in later and later.
The owner talked with people individually (a vertical solution). A little improvement but not much.
Then he called them all together and voiced his concern (another vertical solution). A bit more improvement. But a month later it was just as bad if not worse than before.
Then he did something that cured the problem and kept it cured.
He took Polaroid pictures of the office every fifteen minutes beginning at 9:00 in the morning when the office opened. At noon he posted the pictures on the bulletin board and marked the times on them.
The 9:00 picture showed nobody at work.
The 9:15 shot showed only one person in place.
The 9:30 picture showed eight people in place.
The 10:00 picture showed fi ve people still missing.
The next day’s pictures showed some improvement; the next day’s, a dramatic improvement.
And by the end of the week everybody was there at 9:00.
After another week he stopped the practice and hasn’t had a problem since.
10) LEARN HOW TO COMBINE
If “a new idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old elements,” it stands to reason that
the person who knows how to combine old elements is more likely to come up with a new idea than a person
who doesn’t know how to combine old elements. Here are some suggestions that will help you
Look for Analogues
An analogue is a comparison between two things that are similar in one or more respects, and is used
to help make one of those things clearer or easier to understand.
Is your problem similar to other problems? What’s it dissimilar to?
If the greatest benefit t of your product or service is speed, what’s the fastest thing in the world? Can you
compare your benefit t to that thing? What’s the slowest thing in the world? Can you compare it to that?
If its greatest benefit t is strength, what are the strongest and weakest things you can think of? Can
you compare it to them?
Break the Rules
David Ogilvy broke the rules on how copy writing should sound.
Play “What If?”
What if we turned the product or service into a person, what kind of a person would it be? A man? A
woman? A truck driver? An artist? A basketball player? What would that person say? How would that person
act? What would that person sound like? What if we turned it into an animal, what kind
would it be?
What if we made the product smaller? Or larger? Or a different shape? Or a different color? Or lighter?
Or heavier? Or packaged it differently? Or made it twice as strong? Or half as reliable? Or twice as
What if we made the service faster? Or cheaper? Or more convenient? Or more friendly? Or less
friendly? Or more efficient? Look to Other Fields for Help
Every culture, industry, discipline, department, and organisation has its own way of dealing with problems, its own metaphors, models, and methodologies. But often the best ideas come from cutting across disciplinary boundaries and looking into other fields for new ideas and questions.
Many significant advances in art, business, technology, and science have come about through the cross-fertilisation of ideas.
And to give a corollary, nothing will make a field stagnate more quickly than keeping out outside ideas.
The coin punch and the wine press were around and in constant use for centuries before Johannes
Gutenberg saw the relationship between them and invented the printing press.
George Westinghouse got the idea for air brakes while reading about a compressed-air rock drill they
used for tunnelling in the Alps.
Jim Crocker, a NASA engineer, got the idea for how to fit correcting mirrors into the Hubble telescope
from a European-style shower head he saw in a German hotel.
Finally after conditioning the mind by following the 10 steps, author says to follow the 5 steps to produce ideas.
Each step author explains in detail with example.
Grab your copy of the book to read it.
A FIVE STEP METHOD FOR PRODUCING IDEAS
1) DEFINE THE PROBLEM
2) GATHER THE INFORMATION
3) SEARCH FOR THE IDEA
4) FORGET ABOUT IT
5) PUT THE IDEA INTO ACTION
Read the book to know in detail about the five step method for producing ideas.