Coming up with original ideas and solutions is imperative to surviving the workweek. A client is perpetually questioning the value of your business relationship? <Insert original idea.> You’re having difficulty gaining traction in a particular market? <Insert original idea.> Rising costs are putting a strain on your department’s budget and you don’t see a single line item where you can lean up? <Insert original idea.>
So how do we get the “aha” tinder to ignite so we can solve the problem at hand? Rather than running around frantically holding a lightning rod, the key is to become a builder. Great ideas come from building on existing ideas to make them better. They occur when you look at something you’ve seen many times before and finally see it with fresh eyes. Big ideas don’t start from scratch or arrive via blank slate, even when they seem like they do. Strikes of brilliance are a product of curating your own experiences and making connections to create better experiences for the future.
When you look at the top floor of a skyscraper, think about what it took for that level to exist. It wasn’t just dreamed up one day and then appeared in a flash, it required years of planning and building story after story to reach that height. Original ideas are no different. There is an enormous foundation propping up each one. So when in search of an innovative solution, take it from the approach of pulling an idea or ideas from your experience that have worked in the past, and then improving and adapting them to create a whole new recipe for success.
Now, several factors will bog you down, but they are actually positive and necessary steps in this quest. Procrastination is one that seems like a complete roadblock on the surface and you will indeed crash into it if you practice avoidance to a level that makes it impossible to complete the project. However, original ideas aren’t created as soon as the first meeting adjourns because if it were that easy, they would have already been implemented. Taking some time to let the problem incubate before acting will allow your mind to think in creative directions it would not have without the time to process. There is no prize for first, only best.
You might also experience some doubt while trying to find your big idea. This is good too because it will urge you to keep testing your findings and sharpening them until they are fit to slice right through the problem. Doubt forces us to keep searching for a better solution. Consequently, this will lead to a plethora of bad ideas along the way. But this is encouraging as well because the more output you churn out, the better chance you have coming up with the winning concept. And don’t worry, nobody remembers or cares about all of the rejected thoughts that were left lying on the cutting room floor. All that matters in the end is that you were able to <insert that original idea.>