- Tue, March 06 2012
- Filed under: Fun stuff
Over breakfast, a good friend recently asked me where I get new ideas for work. It was a great question. My answer was not “at the office.” I’ve never gotten a particularly good idea about what’s next from what’s in front of me now. I am inspired by completely different industries struggling with the same problems, big thinkers talking about how the human mind works, or pieces of vaguely relevant history.
It turns out this is not weird.
I’m reading the interesting book, Look at More by Andy Stefanovich, who has made a career of helping companies hatch new ideas and foster more innovative environments. He cites three kinds of inspiration, with the third being my personal favorite when it comes to special insights. If your creative well is running dry, this list may come in handy. Pick one today. You never know what brilliant idea may result.
1. Direct inspiration: Things related to the topic at hand - market data, competitive analysis, talking to customers and employees. This is what we generally do at the office. In my experience, it’s extremely valuable but leads to informed rather than breakthrough thinking - unless you’re able to detach from your perspective and listen very deeply to what you’re hearing.
2. Tangential inspiration: Sources of inspiration not directly related to your topic, but conceptually linked. For example, when designing Network for Good’s latest training program, my colleague Caryn looked at how everyone from Weight Watchers to The Knot helps teach you and lead you through a plan.
3. Abstract inspiration: This is a source of inspiration that at first glance seems completely unrelated to the topic at hand. It’s the best kind of out of box fuel for the mind. It’s why I read fiction or behavioral economics - they make my brain work far more creatively. They don’t give me immediate answers, but they bring me inspiration. It’s where the most novel ideas start.