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Your main objective here is to use the information you have collected and organized during the Investigation step to help you generate further possibilities and ideas that could assist you with overcoming the problems you face. The key here is to explore the information you have on hand about the problem and its core elements in order to generate new and better ideas and fresh perspectives using a variety of brainstorming techniques.

It’s important to keep in mind, that you are not attempting to unleash your creativity just yet. Your creativity will be critical within the Transformation sub-stage, where you will begin taking the ideas you generate here (no matter how crazy they may appear to be) and transforming them in new ways.

Let’s now explore this sub-stage in a little more detail.

Brainstorming Ideas

Your task here is to generate as many ideas as possible in order to create new possibilities and opportunities. However, you must keep in mind that you are focusing on QUANTITY not quality of your ideas. The more ideas you are able to generate the better. In fact, the strongest correlation for quality of ideas is actually quantity of ideas that you are able to generate.

In any field, around 10 percent of the creators are responsible for 50 percent of all the contributions. Also, those who have created the most are the ones who have the most impact on innovation. Linus Pauling once said, that the best way to get a good idea is to have a lot of ideas. This is true of Pablo Picasso who produced 20,000+ pieces of art; true of Albert Einstein who wrote more than 240 papers; true of Thomas Edison filed a record of 1,039 patents, and Richard Branson who has started over 200 companies. For more information, please see the path to genius.

The act of brainstorming and exploding with new ideas, solutions and answers will help you to make new combinations and associations that could potentially unlock a massive number of new groundbreaking perspectives and ideas. All you have to do at this stage is capture them without judgement, criticism or analysis. Whatever comes your way, simply jot it down.

Before jumping into the brainstorming session, you might find it helpful to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What new ideas and insights could I generate from the information I have collected?
  • What are the possibilities here?
  • What are the possible solutions to this problem I am facing?
  • How can I explore possible solutions to this problem?
  • Where can I explore possible solutions to this problem?

Borrow Ideas Yet Again

Within the Investigation step we discussed the importance of borrowing ideas and concepts from other people, places, industries, etc. When it comes to idea generation, it’s critical that as part of your brainstorming process you consider taking concepts and ideas from four main areas:

  • Within your own industry
  • Within a related industry
  • Within an unrelated industry
  • From nature

If you’re in business it is wise to jot down ideas borrowed from your own industry, from related and unrelated industries. Within each of these industries there are probably businesses facing similar or related problems to the problems you are working through. Take a good, long and hard look at them to see how you could potentially apply what they are doing to your own business.

Be warned, that if you blatantly take and use ideas from your own industry and apply it to your own business, than you will most likely be viewed by others within your industry as a thief. If you take and borrow ideas from another related industry, than you’ll most likely be viewed as being creative. And if you take and borrow ideas from an unrelated industry, than you’ll most likely be viewed as a creative genius.

In all instances you are doing the exact same thing, which is borrowing ideas and applying them to your own business. However, it’s where you take your ideas from that makes the biggest difference as to how you are perceived by others. For this very reason, you must learn to be creative. And this is something we will explore within the next sub-stage.

Also keep in mind that an idea or concept that works within one country may often be applied in a unique way in another country. However, unless you jot it down and attempt to make it work, you will never really know the possibilities that may exist.

Finally, if you borrow ideas from nature and re-apply them in a unique way to your own business, than you will be perceived by others as a creative icon such as the likes of Steve Jobs, Walt Disney and Thomas Edison. For instance, George de Mestral borrowed the concept of the tiny hooks that burrs used to attach themselves to clothing when people walked in the woods, and created Velcro. In addition to this, ant farms have been commonly studied to help improve traffic conditions within urban areas.

Personal Problems

When dealing with a personal problem you can still generate ideas by borrowing from people who have experienced your problem; from people who have experienced similar problems; from people who have never experienced your problem but may have experienced other problems, and also from nature. The more capable you become at brainstorming these possibilities, the more likely you are to form relevant connections and associations that will help prepare your mind for the creative transformation sub-stage which we will look at next.

How can I visualize this?

Integrated into this stage is a set of visual thinking techniques, strategies, tools and processes that you can utilize to help you visualize your thoughts on paper or in physical form. These techniques will be revealed and integrated into each stage along The Path over time.

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