‘Blue sky thinking’ is particularly tough when skies are dark and grey. As the nights draw in and energy starts to flag, a flash of inspiration is what’s needed to reignite your mojo. Innovative ideas won’t just fly into your head; there are logical ways to get your creative streak out of hibernation.
1. Start with the end in mind.
It’s almost impossible to conjure creative ideas out of thin air. Focus on solving a problem, stated as a question – for example, how can we get more repeat customers? Phrasing the question right is half the solution.
2. Be contrary.
Take the traditional approach and flip reverse it. A non-literal opposite (instead of giving customers reward points, why not take away points for disloyalty?) can give you a unique starting point for a novel idea.
3. Defer judgement.
Turn off your automatic critiquing mode. What might seem like a terrible idea (disloyalty points, for example) could spark a master-stroke, so focus on quantity of ideas and evaluate quality later.
4. Change your focus level.
Traditional brainstorming generates both broad and specific ideas. Drill into the detail by asking ‘how specifically could we…?’, or take specifics up a notch by asking ‘in what way would this help us…’? Jump between the levels to spark further ideas.
5. Break it down.
Look at the key parts of the problem and list alternative approaches for each one. Then combine these components in different ways to generate an entirely new set of ideas. Ask colleagues to contribute and the possibilities will be endless.