So you want to be a millionaire? Besides all of the other stuff you need to do like work hard, get opportunities, be prepared for success…you need a million dollar idea. Â Remember you don’t just get to have a million dollars, but if you provide the world with something of value, then you can be rewarded with those million dollars.
Ok so every once in a while you have a good idea in the shower or while you are out running. Maybe you write it down, maybe you tell someone at a party- you think yes, this is the idea. Mybe you pursue your million dollar idea a little bit. Â Some hurdle comes up and it seems like the idea just won’t work. Â I have had this happen before – a few times.
Perhaps it isbecause you ran with an idea that wasn’t the best. Â I want to help you get the best possible idea! Â This idea will aloow you to give the people what they want, so you can sell it to them for a million dollars!
What you need to do is some serious brainstorming. If you ever need a really good idea, the easiest thing to do is come up with 100 or 1000 ideas and then pick the one that will work for you. Have you ever seen a wedding photographer take pictures these days? They take 1000’s and the best ones make it out to the world to see. The chances of getting a good photo or a good idea increases with greater numbers.
What should you use brainstorming for? Coming up with the name of your blog or the name of a company or product. Coming up with what to eat for dinner, or a new dish to create. Coming up with new things to write about, or places to go or what do to (Like how I just brainstormed all those things?). For most people, this type of thinking is a one-and-done ideation process. Brainstorming allows us to approach idea creation systematically and finish with a more thorough result.
Brainstorming is best done with a group. If you sit for a while and wrack your brain for all the best ideas, you will probably come close to getting about 30% of them. The more people you add,and the more diverse your brainstorming group, the greater chance the aggregate wisdom will take you closer to 100% of the best ideas.
Here are some guidelines for good brainstorming: withhold any judgement of an idea, piggyback on others ideas, keeps coming up with ideas nonstop, stick to the topic at hand, go for wild and crazy ideas, be visual if possible and draw or act out your idea.
Brainstorming has shaped the way I interact with people because of one of the principle tenants: don’t throw out any idea. This means I will likely listen first and then be able to add to any conversation. Interestingly one of the key tenets of good improv comedy is “yes, and…”, which I have written about as a charismatic practice. Witholding judgement of ideas begets more ideas than any other brainstorming rule.
Piggybacking on the other ideas is one of the greatest benefits of brainstorming sessions with a group. Good ideas naturally come from the little bits and pieces of ideas that are floating around. The easiest ideas are only a small step of understanding away from our current exposure. The more exposure to ideas, the more chances to make a leap or connection to create a new idea (This is why people who live in cities are 300% more creative per capita than those that live in small towns – see the book Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson). With group brainstorming, tinkering with an idea, adding to it, and improving all in one session can save tons of time compared to a sole operator doing personal trial and error.
If you keep coming up with ideas non stop, you will eventually overcome the natural editor that each of us has waiting to put the kibosh on speaking out loud something that is a little edgy or out of character. Rapid fire ideation also prevents you from thinking about what might not work (save the evaluation of the ideas for the post brainstorming phase). Remember other people are counting on your volume of ideas in order to tweak their own and piggyback on. (I will be writing about the solo use of this technique in an upcoming article on freewriting, likewise, check out the book Freewriting by Martin Levy.)
Why encourage wild and crazy ideas when brainstorming? When people are asked to free associate, most fall under a normal bell curve of association. If you start with the color blue the most common association is ‘Sky’. In a group where there were paid actors throwing out ridiculous and clearly false association, people’s free association became more creative ‘jeans’ and ‘berries’. So in a brainstorming session, the wilder suggestions there are, the freer everyone’s thinking becomes and a great many more creative ideas will result.
Finally, draw your ideas one the board. Circle parts of other ideas you like. Draw lines between ideas that you want to connect in a new thought. Use playdough to make a rough example of what you are trying to show. Get into character to better show a situation. Write in different colors. Use cartoons and weird symbols. Maybe I love brainstorming so much because the board ends up looking like a blend between the funny pages and a circus playbill.
So you still want a million dollar idea? If you sit down for a couple minutes each day and brainstorm 10-20 ideas, by the end of the year you will have over 3000! That is well over 100,000 ideas in a lifetime! There are many million dollar ideas in that set, guaranteed. Now that you know it is so easy to get your idea, all you have to do is do something with that idea. We’ll save that for a later post.
Let me know your favorite brainstorming frameworks, or the best result you have gotten from a session of brainstorming!