Ideas are the fuel of innovation. Have some more!

All successful startups start with a bright idea. And all would-be successful entrepreneurs dream of having a great idea to turn into the next unicorn. But how does one go about having a great idea? The trick, as it turns out, is having lots of ideas.

But how can one go about generating lots of ideas? I’ve been doing quite a lot of research recently into this very subject, and I have found 2 great approaches that I use every day.

BIG ideas

The Idea Hunter

In the book The Idea Hunter, the authors outline the IDEA framework for idea generation. Look past the cheesy mnemonic, because the framework is solid as the examples in the book clearly illustrate.

  • Interested in the world around you. Pay attention: inspiration is all around you, and too many of us go through life without noticing what’s in front of us.
  • Diversification: recognise that parts of an idea that can come from many different places.
  • Exercise your idea muscles by always being in the hunt for new ideas. Make sure you’re always alert and trying to identify opportunities and novel ways to address them.
  • Agile handling of ideas, ensuring that you can adapt your idea as you build it. This is very similar to the approach described in The Lean Startup.

9 Ways to Think More Obliquely and Develop Your Ideas

This post in my new favourite reading platform Medium describes a complementary approach to ideation. In many ways overlapping the IDEA framework, Tom Barret’s 9 ways include:

  • Think in meaphors, which I find particularly relatable as I speak in metaphors frequently when explaining complex concepts.
  • Start from a different place: perhaps start by choosing the worst ideas, and then iterating from them to make them better.
  • Steal from other domains, another of my favourites. We’ve all tried to visualise how would Uber disrupt my industry?. Taking ideas from other domains can be particularly fruitful, as initial prototypes based on mature concepts from alternative domains are likely to be rapid to build and start iterating.
  • Arrange blind dates, which sounds fun. Using combinatory play, put together unrelated ideas and be inspired by what happens.

The whole post is well wort a read.

Frameworks for idea generation help create lots of ideas, and lots of ideas is a great place to start finding the next innovation, the one that will change the world.

How do you go about generating your winning ideas?