Blog - 6 ways to play the Ideas Game and Win!

Blog - 6 ways to play the Ideas Game and Win!

They say ideas are a dime a dozen but great ideas are a whole different kettle of fish. Great ideas are the kind of ideas that set the world on fire, and set your bank account on fire in the process.

Great ideas are things like Post-it Notes, which were invented by Art Fry who was frustrated by hymnbook page markers at choir practice. Or Spanx by Sara Blakely, who cut the feet off her pantyhose to eliminate her ‘grid butt’ under tightfitting pants. Or the Frisbee by Walter Frederick Morrison, who tossed the circular lid of a popcorn tin around the backyard with his girlfriend on Thanksgiving Day. We tend to think the people who come up with such ideas are a special breed, somehow more insightful and clever than us minions. But think again: we all have the ability to latch onto a great idea, even when engaged in the most inconsequential of circumstances as detailed in the above examples. We just need to reinvent ourselves as winners in the ideas game.

1. Take a worldview

Every entrepreneur has that golden tip for becoming a visionary but the one thing universal among them all is understanding the world around you. If you exist in a bubble, your ideas will have no relevancy.

Retrain yourself to look at everything in an observational manner. Even when you walk down your street or wander through a familiar park, look at things like you’re looking at them for the first time.

In the article, 7 Ways to Generate Great Ideas, Kevin Daum suggests socialising outside your normal circles, randomly surfing the ‘net (try the Google ‘I’m feeling lucky’ function) and reading more books. Yes, this might finally be the time when you get to read War and Peace but not necessarily for the reasons you think (see the section, Be a daydreamer, below).

2. Respect your brain

Ideas Pie Chart Small

Your brain is undeniably your most precious tool when it comes to ideas. As any artisan knows, if you don’t respect your tools, your work will suffer. So how can you expect your brain to win the ideas game if you don’t look after it?

It’s a no-brainer that good food and exercise are necessary for peak brain function. Kevin Daum also believes meditation is a powerful means for stimulating the brain and encouraging it to think with clarity. Keeping a journal is also a good way to record your ideas for posterity and release them from your head so your mind doesn’t get unnecessarily cluttered.

Oh, and there’s one more thing: sleep. It may be a rare commodity in this rush-rush day and age but get sufficient sleep and your brain will thank you.

3. Define your idea

In the article, How to consistently come up with great ideas, Tapha Ngum questions whether many people are just sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike when they simply don’t understand what an idea is:

“My definition of an idea is – a concept that lies in the middle of two other concepts or, put simply – the connection between two concepts.”

Tapha Ngum puts forward the following steps for generating an idea and then defining it:

(i) Choose an area.
(ii) Expose yourself to unexpected successes in it.
(iii) Understand why they succeed. Let it all sink in.
(iv) Have an idea quota; write ideas down.
(v) Pick the best ones.

4. Keep working at it

In the article, How creative geniuses come up with ideas, James Clear tells the story of Markus Zusak and how he rewrote his bestselling novel, The Book Thief, an estimated 150-200 times before publishing it. In other words, great ideas may seem to just happen but even the Post It notes, Spanx and Frisbees of this world went through an arduous process before they became a reality. Zusak said, “In three years, I must have failed over a thousand times, but each failure brought me closer to what I needed to write, and for that, I’m grateful.”

In other words, failure is an important part of the ideas game. Embrace it and learn.

5. Make it fun

We are all kids at heart, regardless of how old or ‘professional’ we may think we are. So, ‘playing’ is one of the most effective means for stimulating the imagination and really getting us engaged in the ideas game.

With idea-generating in mind, there are many ways to turn the techniques we’ve already mentioned into a game of sorts, or something that is, at the very least, not a chore. Author Kevin Daum also puts forward some structured exercises that will have you thinking like a visionary in no time.

6. Be a daydreamer

It’s a lost art: the art of daydreaming. Too often considered a sign of laziness or a waste of time, a paper from the University of California has argued that daydreaming could be the missing link in the ideas game. And that’s where we come to the example of War and Peace…

In a study, students assigned with boring tasks to allow their minds to wander – such as reading the most mundane passages of War and Peace – performed far better when asked to come up with additional uses for everyday items than students in other conditions. In fact, the daydreamers came up with 41 percent more possibilities.

“A daydream, in this sense, is just a means of eavesdropping on those novel thoughts generated by the unconscious. We think we’re wasting time, but, actually, an intellectual fountain really is spurting.”

The Virtues of Daydreaming, The New Yorker

Join the daydreamers at Integra Systems and make your ideas a reality. Visit www.integrasystems.com.au

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Published in Blog
K2_WRITTEN_ON February 08 2017
Written by Erika Hughes