Tim Brown, CEO of design consultancy IDEO, gives a quick tip for nurturing emerging creative ideas: find a way to make it visual.
He explains why this is so powerful:
Try describing in detail the bedroom you spent your childhood in. My guess is that you will have a hard time describing it well enough for someone else to recreate it. The same is true for new ideas. Words may be a start, but they often lack the precision and clarity required to describe a new idea to someone else. Photos, sketches, and data visualizations can make complex ideas easier to understand and share. That’s why portfolios beat résumés, and young designers are still encouraged to carry a sketchbook.
Mike Brown (no relation to Tim), founder of The Brainzooming Group in Kansas City, has written a post that is a veritable encyclopedia of idea incubation techniques. From doodling while eating out to using exercise to knock the mental cobwebs loose, there are more than two dozen suggestions for keeping your creative momentum when outwardly the ideation process appears stopped.
Jeffrey Baumgartner, owner of the Belgian-based Bwiti company, discusses something that is often omitted from discussions of corporate innovation – opportunity cost. Using Polaroid as an example of what can happen when one doesn’t realize the proper way to calculate opportunity cost over the lifetime of a potential innovation, he demonstrates that figuring out which potentially revolutionary ideas (which are usually also very costly to begin with) are worth the risk to implement.
An audio interview with IDEO founders Tom and David Kelley with HBR’s Alison Beard. The Kelleys say that many creatives are blocked by the fear of the messy unknown, the fear of judgement, the fear of getting started, and/or the fear of letting go of control. They discuss how they help people develop “creative confidence” through a variety of exercises and techniques. The page that the podcast sits on also includes a transcript of the conversation.
An intriguing, if brief, Pinterest board put together by the To Get Her There initiative of the Girl Scouts of America. It features the inventions of girls and young women ranging from 5 to 15, including glow-in-the-dark writing paper, a step-stool made especially for kids, and a urine-powered electrical generator (yes, really).