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How to Generate New Ideas

Organizations are constantly looking for ideas which will help them cut down their costs, maximize their profits and stay ahead of the competition. The ability to come up with new ideas is therefore a very valuable skill in any workplace. Here are some guidelines for generating new ideas:

Break thought patterns

Many people are stuck in specific thinking patterns which limit them. To generate new ideas, you need to find a way of breaking such thought patterns. Here are some techniques which could come in handy:

  • Challenge assumptions – Every problem you face comes with a several assumptions. For instance, when faced with a difficult task, you could assume that you don’t have the capacity to handle it. Such an assumption needs to be challenged. If you lack the knowhow, could you enroll in a course to learn the skills? Could you educate yourself using online and offline resources? Could you ask a colleague to mentor you? Challenging your assumptions opens up a whole range of possibilities which you hadn’t thought of previously.
  • Reword problems – When you are facing a specific problem, think of how you can state it differently. For instance, instead of asking ‘How can we stop losing money?, you could ask ‘How can we cut down our costs?’ Rewording the problem allows you to look at it from a different angle, and thus come up with creative ideas for solving it.
  • Express yourself in varied ways – In most cases, people express their feelings verbally. However, you could consider expressing yourself through other media such as music, paintings, sculptures or poetry. Your different expressions are likely to generate new ideas for solving the problem.

Change your perspective

Everyone has a perspective on issues which influences their decisions. To generate new idea, you might need to shift your perspective. Here are some tips:

  • Get other people’s perspectives – When facing a problem or challenge, ask different people how they would handle it. This could be your colleagues, boss, suppliers, customers or even your spouse. You could even consider getting the perspective of someone from a different culture.
  • Ask yourself ‘If I were…’ – Put yourself in the shoes of anyone that you admire or respect. Then ask yourself, ‘If I were……, how would I approach this problem?’ For instance, ‘If I were Bill Gates, how would I deal with declining sales?’

Use enablers

Enablers are actions and activities which help in generating ideas. The following are some of the enablers that can spark your creativity:

  • Self-belief - You will find it easier to generate ideas when you believe in yourself
  • Change of environment – In some cases, all it takes to get your creative juices flowing is a change of setting. If you cannot think in your office, go to the nearby café. Alternatively, a walk around the park might just be what you need
  • Eliminate distractions – At times, idea generation requires a serene environment. You can get rid of distractions by closing your door, shutting off your computer or TV or diverting your calls.

The ability to come up with new ideas is very important in the workplace. Applying the techniques mentioned above will help boost your creativity.

Image source: iStock

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