Leader Volume 9, Number 2
to Become an "Idea Person"
Mr. Gabor is an interpersonal communication skills trainer and the author of the book and audiotape, How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends (Simon & Schuster/Fireside, New York, 1983; revised edition, 2000). This article is adapted from Big Things Happen When You Do the Little Things Right (Prima, Rocklin, CA, 1997). For a free creativity tip sheet, visit www.dongabor.com or call 800-423-4203.
living in America has munched on Cracker Jacks, the candy-coated
popcorn and peanut snack, but did you ever wonder how it got to be
so popular? It wasn't the only product of this kind on the market,
in fact, far from it. By the early 1900s, there were more than one
hundred brands of similar tasting candy, including Yellow Kid,
Honey Corn, Little Buster, and Razzle Dazzle, just to name a few.
Yet, after nearly 100 years, only Cracker Jacks still satisfies
millions of sweet tooths around the country while the other brands
have long disappeared. Why?
Tap Into Your Creativity to Get Faster Results
Do you wish that you could be more innovative, but you always seem to get stuck doing things in the old way? During a department meeting, when your boss asks for suggestions on how to deal with problems, do you wish you could come up with some solutions? Would you like to find more creative approaches to getting over obstacles and achieving your goals? You probably know someone who comes up with one great idea after another, but did you ever wonder how he or she does it? Many creative problem-solvers use brainstorming to stimulate their imagination and generate ideas. Now you can learn how to expand your creative skills and become an "idea person," too. When you use your imagination, you'll reach your goal sooner and have more fun in the process.
Brainstorming: Generating Ideas and Solutions
Dictionary defines brainstorming as a problem-solving
technique that sparks a spontaneous generation of ideas. The
purpose of brainstorming is to produce as many solutions, ideas,
or outcomes as possible without stopping to evaluate their
feasibility or value. Critiquing the ideas occurs later.
Brainstorming works though the power of association by offering
ideas around a particular subject or problem. The hope is that one
idea leads to another, and to another, and so on. Whether you are
brainstorming by yourself or with others, follow these five
techniques to generate new ideas.
on One Clearly Defined Idea, Problem, or Goal
on Previous Ideas
a Large Number of Ideas
In the early 1930s, Charles B. Darrow was an unemployed engineer living in Germantown, Pennsylvania. To pass the time and take his mind off his financial problems, Darrow devised an intricate real estate board game played with dice, "deeds," "hotels," and "houses." Daily newspaper accounts of wheeler-dealers winning and losing fortunes in real estate investments spawned the original idea and fed his imagination for the game's components. Then Darrow's visit to the seaside resort, Atlantic City, New Jersey generated dozens more of ideas for the game, including the names of expensive properties such as "Boardwalk," "Park Place," and "Marvin Gardens." One day, as Darrow and a few other unemployed friends passed another afternoon playing his new game, one fellow joked that he ought to sell it to the game company, Parker Brothers. The rest, as they say, is history. By 1935, Charles Darrow's new board game, "Monopoly," was selling twenty thousand sets a week, and he was on his way to being a millionaire.
One Idea Lead to Another
All Your Ideas
If you are
brainstorming with other people, nothing can ruin a creative
session faster than an overly competitive atmosphere, a crass
comment, or tactless remark. Also, avoid these idea-killing
phrases during a group brainstorming session:
Measuring the Value of an Idea
When it comes to brainstorming, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that brainstorming generates lots of ideas and possible solutions to problems. The bad news is that not all the ideas are useful or applicable to your specific goal. Like a gardener who culls weak seedlings from a flowerbed, you too must sift through your ideas and focus on the ones with the most potential. Not all ideas are created equal; some are going to help you achieve your goals more than others. The question is, how do you know which ideas to use now, which ones to save for later, and which ones to discard? Before you rush to judgment, give yourself time to consider how the idea or option will affect your overall plan and goal. Allowing some time to pass gives you an added perspective on your idea. I use the following two criteria to measure the value of the ideas and solutions after a successful brainstorming session.
this Idea Help Me Achieve My Midterm and Long Term Goals?
Now the Right Time to Put this Idea into Action?
Separate the Wheat from the Chaff
It's not always
easy to differentiate the good idea from the clunker -- so you
will need to test your idea to learn if it will pay off for you.
Once you and your team decide that an idea has potential value,
then you'll be known as an "idea person."