Maybe you believe that stealing ideas is not very creative or original.Or even that it is unethical. However, there are idea banks where people post, exchange, discuss and polish new ideas, just for the intellectual pleasure of devising ideas and the social rewards of sharing them. Some people approach idea banks just to get inspiration and getting into the mood of making a creative effort for something they are working on.
A good example of ‘taking a holiday” from our daily short time and quick solution oriented thinking can be found in the Siemens Ideas Bank, which is focused on technologies for basic needs. You will find inspirational ideas about:
- Waste management and recycling
- Food and Agriculture
- Water and waste water
- Health care
- Housing and construction
- Integral solutions
Other, sometimes hilarious but also serious ideas can be found in Halfbakery, like the mini segway executive chair. Simple and practical ideas can be found in An Idea A Day, like political ideas to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict.
For ideas about social innovation – the design of social arrangements – look at the book The Global Ideas Bank – 500 ways to change the world.
So take a holiday and visit interesting ideas!
Coming up with real break-through ideas is not easy and will require some training and experience. However, the trickiest part of an idea generation session is in its first phase: defining the focus. Defining the thinking task is the first task you should undertake when you are trying something like a “20 Minutes Idea Boost”.
Defining the Focus
Often teams tend to skip this phase. They assume that the thinking task before them is clear.This is not the best approach since. . .
- the current definition of the challenge or problem could be hindering the search for a solution
- there may be unchecked different perceptions between the participants about what the problem or challenge is
- the thinking task could be far too broad or abstract to get concrete ideas
Defining the wrong focus can sometimes result in great ideas, but the ideas may not be of the kind that you actually looking for – they do not solve your specific problem. You can also end up with simply poor ideas.
Example: We need ideas to deal with the shortage of maths teachers. The problem here is that teachers in maths are not well paid. Solution: raise they salary for maths teachers. . .
Redefine the focus at infinity
To lessen the risk of being trapped in an obvious definition of the thinking goal – and getting obvious ideas – it helps to redefine the thinking challenge in at least 20 ways, connecting them with the statement: the problem here is. . . and. . . and. . . also. . . and not to forget. . .
Example: The problem with the shortage of maths teachers is that there are too few teachers leaving schools and also that maths teachers do have too many other tasks besides their teaching, and the problem is that the time in the class is not efficient used, and not to forget there is far too little PC aided support, and the problem is that far too much children have to learn math, and also the classes are far too big and there are too few teachers in maths because their education is too long, to elaborated. too. . . and so on. . .
Define selection criteria
Setting criteria against ideas at the end of a session are a very useful way to reflect on possible outcomes. It will prevent ” drifting”, that is coming up with wild and great ideas that are not relevant for this particular thinking task. Another advantage to setting criteria before actual generating ideas is that it prevents a certain bias against crazy ideas, i.e. ideas that are not well-suited for overcoming the challenge.
Example: a good idea will increase the available maths teachers with at least 20 %, a good idea will reduce the amount of students that get no maths teaching with 80 % at least. A good idea will not cost more than the salaries of maths teachers we don’t have at the pay this year.
In Innovation – Selecting Ideas we wrote about the importance of setting criteria for what should be regarded as a good idea. This should be done before you start to generate ideas.
Make it sexy
The thinking task should be formulated in a way that is as challenging, far-reaching, provoking, imaginative and energetic as possible. The classical IWWMW – In What Ways Might We – is not real inviting, neither does ” We need ideas to improve…” ignites any real enthusiasm
Example: . At least every child in secondary school should have 100 hrs maths a year by a qualified teacher. The amount of students that will have maths education will not exceed the available maths teachers. How to make rock-stars of maths teachers within two years?
Make it formal
When you have finally found a promising thinking task, write it down:
- the subject: about what we are going to think
- the goal of objective: what should be reached after the thinking session: a solution, an idea, an approach, a decision, etc
- selection criteria for assessing ideas
- the sexy question
Time spent a meticulous formulating the thinking task will reward you with hopefully better ideas in less time. And all ideas will land exactly where you were aiming at. You will hit the bulls-eye – every time! Why does it work? It works because you have a clear view of the dart board.
In 10 research tips for finding answers online Danielle Thomson shared some of her best research tips to help you in those “why can’t I find this?” moments. One of them is this:
There are no new questions. Have a research question? Trust me, it’s been asked before. Put your exact question into quotations as a search term, and you will find, at the very least, a lead to your answer. Want to find out how much of the ocean has been explored? Type “How much of the ocean has been explored” into your search engine, and you will likely get your answer.
In this Thinkibility nibble we will challenge our readers to come up with a question that a search engine cannot answer.
If you will find one, don’t worry. Also, for your contribution we will reward you with our new e-book: 12 Thinking Strategies.
Moscow Subway Ticket Machine Accepts Physical Exercise As Payment
To promote exercise and the 2014 Olympics, Olympic Changes installed a very special ticket machine at the Moscow subway station. Instead of accepting money as payment, the high-tech ticket machine only accepts exercise. Riders could receive a free ticket by standing in front of the machine’s camera.
We think it is interesting. But why is it interesting? Why did it caught our attention?
By the way, what is the concept of interesting?
This map was made by using the Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus, an excellent tool for explore your thinking.
Suddenly we have fifteen focus area to reflect why a Physical Ticket Machine is interesting. And that could help you to bring the idea further. Could you come up with ideas to improve the concept? Other applications? Other ways to carry out the concept? Comparable concepts?
We would like to hear your suggestions but consult first with your patent office.