It all begins with a kernel of an idea. A story. A product. An innovation. A speech. A video.
In the business of communications we regularly need to originate ideas on how to deliver results for our internal and external clients. All campaigns, strategies and tools start with an idea. On a daily basis we construct narratives for others' ideas.
In this two-part series about IDEAS, we begin here with the inspiration and sources for ideas. In Part 2 we'll focus on ways to turn ideas into reality and provide some tips and tools for unleashing great ideas.
While not all ideas lead to unicorns and breaking news, every person has ideas to add value to many situations. So, let's share a few thoughts with our friends and co-workers to stimulate thinking about something new or better.
Ideas can come from anywhere at any time. Inspiration. You. Me. Employees and colleagues. A restaurant cashier. The park. Your kids. A movie. Even while killing time in an airport bookstore...
One of the mysteries of new ideas is that they often appear out of nowhere, especially when you're not otherwise distracted by your mobile
phone, computer or television.
Why is that? While seemingly random, it's actually not surprising that ideas pop up this way when you consider how few moments there are in our daily lives when distractions are (temporarily) removed.
Other proven mind-freeing methods are listening to music, reading a book, and fitness activities like running and swimming. Even at a less physical level, activities like gardening or folding clothes put the mind in a less-frenzied place where ideas can emerge without deliberate effort.
Going a little deeper, using elements of meditation to inspire new ideas is not just for the spiritually enlightened among us; in fact, meditation is becoming a more widely used technique in the corporate world. Specifically, "guiding" your thoughts helps to surface new ideas from the ether (or wherever it is they come from). Whether you call it "guided meditation" or "attentive daydreaming" or "open-monitoring" meditation" or something else, why not try it for a week or two and see if it actually works for you?
Hamilton Was Conceived In An Airport Bookstore
As Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda recounts it, he got the idea for the show while browsing in a bookstore for something to read just prior to going on vacation. He randomly came across Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton and came to the conclusion that Hamilton's life had a hip-hop narrative. He then did a Google search to see if anyone had already written something like that (thankfully no!) and he was off to the races.
The Question That Birthed Snapchat
In the Spring of 2011 three Stanford buddies were dusting off from their first entrepreneurial failure when one of them, Reggie Brown, had an idea: "I wish these photos I'm sending this girl would disappear," he said. One of his co-founders loved the idea, and called it, "a million dollar idea". Little did he know how much he was undervaluing it! They spent all summer working on what was then called "Pictaboo". The rest is social media history.
Breaking Bad Started Off as a Meaningless Joke
The idea for the hit TV show "Breaking Bad" -- described by one television executive as the worst idea for a show he had ever heard -- came to series creator Vince Gilligan while he was swapping absurd ideas with a friend to alleviate their frustration at finding jobs in Hollywood. The pair, who had worked on "The X Files" more than three years prior, were trying to figure out what to do next. One idea was to become Walmart greeters. Another idea was to put a meth lab in the back of an RV and drive around the Southwest. As Gilligan told an interviewer: "That image...I don't know, it just stuck with me. It jarred something within me. This image that started off as a meaningless joke on the phone turned into this show."
Ideas are ephemeral. If you don't capture them while they still linger in your short-term memory then off they go into thin air. How many times have we all had the best idea pop into our head and then didn't write it down or commit it anywhere? Just think of all the amazing ideas that have vanished over the years!
If it isn't part of your routine to chronicle your creative thoughts as they pop into your mind, here are some suggested ways to capture ideas in 2017.
Always carry a pen and Post-it pad or notebook
Use a voice recording app on your phone
Use Evernote, OneNote or similar note-taking apps
Keep a pad and pen near your bed to jot new thoughts that pop in your head while sleeping
Challenge yourself to come up with one (or more) new ideas per day
If you run a team then challenge them to come up with new ideas; you could even hold a competition and award prizes for best ideas
"Thomas Edison set idea quotas for all his workers. He even held himself to a quota of one minor invention every 10 days and one major invention every six months!"
We're not all Thomas Edison but there's a creative spark in each of us, if we only let it out!
Ivy Cohen Corporate Communications, Inc. helps companies build reputations and differentiate in a competitive market through thought leadership, public education, issues management, content strategy, and strategic communications. To find out how ICCC can help you and your company build your reputation contact firstname.lastname@example.org, call 212-399-0026 or visit www.ivycohen.com.