How to come up with ideas?
When a new idea comes to mind, it does so because a specific constellation of neurons in your brain fires with each other for the first time. Whether your idea is a new way to solve a complex business problem, a tagline in a marketing campaign, or a software application feature, ideas are physical networks of thousands of co-firing neurons.
This makes several imperatives clear. A network must be both dense and dynamic to produce innovation. We can't have an epiphany with only a few neurons firing. And even if a network is dense, it must also be changing; a static network is incapable of exploring new possibilities and improving upon existing ideas.
How, then, can we become more innovative individuals? We can push our brains to form more creative networks by placing ourselves in environments that mimic our neural signature—connecting with diverse people and ideas and experimenting with the ideas that emerge.
First ask, “How extensive is your network?” If your network is small, expand it.
Next ask, “How diverse is your network?” If your network consists of similar people, make it a priority to identify and get into conversation with people who are different from you.
Actions you can take to expand your networks to come up with ideas:
- Attend a virtual cocktail party
- Attend a couple of conferences each year
- Watch one TED Talk daily
- Once we’re back in the office, commit to never eating lunch alone
- Talk with new people—the teenager down the street; your uncle with opposite political leanings
Learn more ideas and the 5 steps to creating an Innovation Culture :