During the course of my business endeavors, I have often crossed the threshold of having the most compelling, creative thoughts and ideas, but having them come in at a time I least wanted them. Even though I was grateful, the timing wasn’t quite right. I was either busy, or had neither phone nor pen & paper with me.
It was at a later time I started to look for strategies on how to deal with the influx of creative thought forms, how to organize and sort, and make best use of this creative force erupting here and there.
Why having ideas is so important for us
According to Csikszentmihalyi, one main reason why creativity is so fascinating for us is that when we are involved in it, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life. The excitement associated with creativity comes close to the ideal fulfillment we all hope to get from life, and it provides us with a sense of being part of an entity greater than ourselves.
Listening to your inner voice and the ideas you have
Having ideas can’t be forced, they come when they come.
When they finally arrive, the choice is upon you with reference to what to do with this spark of ingenuity.
“An idea without execution is nothing.”
You can of course store ideas in the fleeting memory of your brain, or you can write them down with as many details as you can possibly grasp, tapping into the invisible and infinite potential of something unbeknownst to you.
Sparking the idea flow
As earlier stated, Csikszentmihalyi’s research resulted in the discovery that it is easier to enhance creativity by setting up a supportive environment. Several companies have taken advantage of this insight, they have created working spaces because their business models rely on the creativity of smart workers. They therefore offer offices with a competitive edge to attract this workforce.
Consequently, changing your environment, even temporarily, is definitely a good move for sparking the idea flow. Going for long walks in nature is a dead certain matter.
You can however, also employ techniques to pro-actively twist your or your team’s thoughts. Brainstorming doesn’t have to be a disaster area.
The first one I’ll mention here is the idea production technique first introduced by James Webb Young in the 1940s, which consists of a seven step process. This article brings a nice introduction to this approach.
Another method is the SCAMPER technique. Created by Bob Eberle in the early 1970s, it is more a general-purpose checklist with idea spurring questions.
The notion of SCAMPER is based on exactly this insight: modifying something that already exists.
Each letter in the acronym is a different approach to trigger new ideas, where first the problem or challenge is stated and then questions are asked to pinpoint the issue.
S – Substitute
C – Combine
A – Adapt
M – Magnify
P – Put to Other Uses
E – Eliminate (or Minimize)
R – Rearrange (or Reverse)
Young also recognized, that the capacity to bring old elements into new combinations does depend largely on the ability to see relationships. A pretty good source to read more about this method can be found here.
How to Organize your Ideas into something usable
Once you have the idea juices flowing the, second phase begins. It is emphasized by finding a way of organization so that execution can take place.
“Having ideas is easy, executing them is the hard part.”
Do you remember Dumbledore using the pensieve to review memories?
Pensieve is a portmanteau, combining the words ‘pensive’ and ‘sieve’. The latter is an object in which something may be sorted, drained or separated, and ‘Pensive’ is derived from French, and originally from the Latin ‘pensare,’ meaning ‘to ponder,’ and in common English usage means ‘thoughtful’ or ‘reflective’; thus a ‘pensieve’ allows for the sorting of thoughts or memories.
I love the thought of having a pensieve for storing ideas! It would be one of the most convenient things. Imagine the possibility of always being able to tap into the clarity, fullness, and ingenuity of that original spark coming in. Maybe there is someone inventing it already? (If you know this person, let me know!)
Until then, we can make good use of some of the tools I am going to introduce to you today.
“Ideas are just a thought. The rest requires action, activity and determination.”
Tools for Idea Storing & Development
The first tool is germ.io.
I found germ.io to be an interesting concept, because it will not only be able to store your ideas, but will also evolve tasks, projects and to-dos from it organically. Germ.io will assist you with getting your ideas to execution. This is one of the most vital aspects for your business or projects, because an idea without execution is nothing.
The founders of germ.io came upon four realizations that motivated them to dive into the development of this tool:
1. When it comes to managing ideas, nobody has a tool they love and use.
2. You could wring a task list to manage ideas. But you can’t get your team to care unless you put a gun on their head.
3. Everybody wants a better way to get from ideas to execution. That’s a problem that we, as a species, haven’t really solved yet.
4. Nobody wakes up in the morning wishing for a bunch of tasks to complete (except Aladdin’s Genie, maybe)
Germ.io considers the fact that an idea is like a raw ingredient in your kitchen, it requires thought, polishing and validation, and a platform is provided that affords you the space to do exactly that. It combines the power of visual thinking with project management and collaboration.
As of writing this, germ.io is not yet a full-fledged application, it’s still under development. Their release is somewhere between beta and alpha, but can already be used freely by everyone.
Another tool that would be great for storing and evolving ideas is Trello.
It is an all-rounder tool for organizing 1001 tasks, projects, and ideas, and it is also suitable for collaboration.
It has many useful features I value, and the addition of files and images is one I appreciate a lot. You can add resources like files, pictures or links to your ideas and create something incredibly useful and beautiful with it. Check out my inspirational Tweet-Board for an example. If you know some basics of Markdown (which is two handful of shortcuts), you will able to format your content and give it an extra bit of usability.
I personally work a lot with the Trello App when I am on the road. It’s a no-brainer, and I find it very useful, handy and just so convenient.
Kindling has an awesome set of features and was made for idea management. It’s a magnificent dashboard that provides a simple way of sharing, working on, and analyzing ideas for business growth. It allows for idea campaigns and is open for group collaboration.
One of the features I found very valuable is that it offers multiple language support and automated content translation. Kindling is also very committed to keep their customer’s data safe and secure through encryption and by regular vulnerability scans.
What applications do you prefer to use, to store and develop your ideas? Have you used any mentioned in this article? If so, what were your experiences? – Please share them with me in the comment section below.