Managing yourself creatively

Creating Good Ideas

There was a time when people thought that the ability to create ideas was like the ability to wiggle your ears. Either you were born with it or you weren’t.

There is, first, the almost continuous pressure we are under from a variety of sources to conform to some accepted behavioral norm, whether it comes from adolescent peers, our neighbors or our co-workers. In the course of life, various institutions join the conspiracy: schools, the armed forces, the company. The price we pay for acceptability is enormous nothing less than our individuality. And when we curb our behavior according to society’s demands, we inevitably also curb the thing that makes us most unique: our patterns of thinking. As a consequence, our creativity diminishes.

Then there is the mischief unintentionally wrought by the very democracy that helps us in so many other ways. We pledge our allegiance to the political concept of majority rule and promptly confuse it with an ethical truism. Yet, the fact that “the majority rules” does not necessarily mean, “the majority is right”. In truth, history is replete with examples of the majority being most definitely wrong. But once we allow the majority to wear a halo in our minds, our ability to think iconoclastically and reason originally becomes first inhibited, then paralyzed and, finally nonexistent.

However, we are learning more about the creative process almost daily and, as a profitable by-product, we are mastering methods to enable us to create ideas, almost at will.

The important thing to realize is that the creation of good idea can- indeed, must – be learned.

How do you go about it?

First, you must understand how the mind develops a new idea. Second, consciously establish the kind of climate in which idea creation thrives. Third, practice the personal discipline that helps the process operate.

The process itself is relatively simple. It is based on association – the tendency of the mind to put together old, familiar ideas into new, fresh combinations. There is nothing new under the sun, but we have only scratched the surface of all the possible ways these old things can be combined. By changing the size, the shape or the use of common object, for example, hundreds of “new” products are created annually. Ever see a crumb sweeper used on a tablecloth? It’s merely the hand sweeper women use on their rugs reduced in size and minus the handle.

Clarence Birds eye the some fish that had been frozen and thawed during a trip to Canada, borrowed from nature, and founded the frozen food industry.

A doctor, remembering how he signaled to childhood friends through a hollow log, reduced the log in size, modified its shape – and invented the stethoscope.

Rudolf Diesel found the final clue for his engine in the way a certain cigar lighter worked.

The fountain pen owes its existence to the fact that people who used pens always kept ink at hand. Somebody merely asked, “why not combine them?

In each case, the inventor borrowed an existing idea and altered it by rearranging or combining certain elements. This combining of old ideas into new ones can be accomplished in two ways-by accident and by design.

Do your combining by accident and you are lucky. Do it by design and you are an idea man.