How many times it has been that you thought of a cool idea had surge of happiness, googled it and turned away disappointed seeing 100 search results about something similar already done. How many times you come up with some small idea and think, this is not useful and throw it away. Those tiny epiphanies can actually be useful. Its these small ideas which mix together, refine themselves to make something bigger. Sometimes one hackneyed idea leads to inspire another and opens new chain of thought. So don’t let that basic idea welt in darkness but rather make good use of them. Here is how one can be more creative –
1) Write – Maintain Your ideas document
We never forget ideas we get excited about, concepts we learn by doing and things which irritate hell out of us. They remain as background thread in our multi-processor mind. A lot of times these threads join to culminate into a great idea or new way of doing the same thing. To ensure that you still remember thoughts and ideas you had some 4-5 years ago, write them in a document (Use your smartphone or keep a pen and scratch-pad ). Read the back entries once in a while. With increased knowledge you might be able to connect the dots backward and come up with something significant.
2) Analyse Things which irritate you
My brother told me this after coming back from his first vacation from college, as told by one of his professors in orientation to Mechanical Engineering as basic rule of innovation. Keep a constant eye on things which irk you. Possibilities are its not just that you who gets irritated by them, but hundreds and millions others as well. Things which are as trivial as shopping to travelling to maintaining expenses. You never know when you might get a new business idea. Shining example of this is – Red Bus , where the founder realized that something needs to be done about bus reservation system in india when he failed to get himself one on Diwali to go to his hometown.
3) Listen to what your users say
I can’t stress this enough. Working at a job, coding some shit up or already have alpha test of product running? Don’t forget to understand the mindset of your users. Listening to users can a lot of times result in adding new features and or give whole new direction to your product or a new totally new idea. Sometimes they would be explicit and ask for what they need, sometimes a lot of them would be trying to tell you the same thing in subtle way. Learn to develop a third eye because at the end of the day you are making product for a person to use. I myself have interacted with users while making Spellathon and know users can be smarter than you think they are.
4) Share Ideas – Let Ideas have sex :)
“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” — George Bernard Shaw
When people get together and share ideas, those ideas mesh, combine, and ultimately evolve into new ideas. If you talk to each other, you can ultimately come up with new ideas that are even better than the original. That’s ultimately how the world has developed. There is excellent Ted Talk by Redley about the same. Go to Meetups listen to what people are doing and share yours.
5) Surf and surf a lot !
Ideas and knowledge cross your path either big or small while surfing, something which held your attention long give you the ‘aha moment’, save the link. I read hackernews regularly and keep jotting down anything which impresses me enough, widens my knowledge or stuff I would want to explore more about.
6) Have experiences out of your comfort zone
Widen your experience. Try other disciplines. You will have better realisations and understandings. From designing to travel to eating food. Don’t be afraid to try something small to test idea and fail. You will learn a lot. Failing teaches more Don’t s which in my opinion are more important than the Do’s.