Thinking outside the box is such a cliché term in modern business. The fact that everyone says “let’s think outside the box” is the exact beginning of a brainstorming session that likely will lead to tired, uninspired ideas.
Okay, but then how do we develop the great, creative ideas?
Here are some recent ramblings on what I’ve found works when you’re envisioning a new idea, either solo or with your team. Remember, an idea is not a final product—but too often people confuse the two.
When teams think “outside the box”, one of their first inclinations is to seek feedback. Take a concept, present it to a team or customer base, and take note of the results. Though this can be effective in some situations, the reality is that people often do not know exactly where your idea, or their idea, will lead them.
Focus Away from the Artist
Van Gogh is successful and iconic as an artist, but is his work fantastical and amazing on its own merits? How much of it is our impression of who Van Gogh is and how much is the quality of the work? To me, Van Gogh’s work is the masterpiece, not the man. Looking at that front the business perspective, you are just a single individual. Your team, however important it is, is just the team. But the creative output is its own entity. The artist does matter, but in business and development the artist is about the product rather than the product being about the artist.
Emphasize the Child
Both children and adults are governed by rules. But with children, those rules are constructs that parents and adults place around them. Not self-defined rules. Not only that, but children break rules constantly, and they are blissfully ignorant of even basic social boundaries. Find a way to think freely like a child. Forget social constraints and physics for a moment.
These are just a few ideas that can sometimes help us to not hyper-focus on the trivial, day-to-day grind and instead inspire us to look at the bigger picture and from there maybe a few good ideas will develop.
What do you find works best for you when you’re working on a new idea?