Built upon the ‘recipe’ from a previous post, I call these items ‘utensils’ because I see them as useful tools to stimulate or improve how your brain works. Interestingly, each of the items begins with the letter ‘I’.
Intelligence … is the total combination of your knowledge and skills stored in your brain. You tap this significant wealth to create understanding of a situation or problem, to find stimuli to spark ideas, and to link disparate (even conflicting) notions together. It also feeds your intuition to stimulate brainstorming.
Imagination … is your ability to create mental visions or pictures. If intelligence is current and past information, imagination is future information. To be imaginative, you must open yourself to everything that’s possible and impossible, and limit negative or restrictive thoughts. As a skill, I call it day-dreaming – one of the most under-rated and necessary mental activities, particularly at work.
Insight … refers to isolating the kernel of truth or understanding about a particular topic. (What does ‘X” mean?) Insight is created in two steps, through:
- Observation and discovery, an intensive examination of everything associated with the need or problem, such as its history or the current perceptions of the audiences who might need or use the idea, and
- Obsession, a thorough pre-occupation with both the topic and the problem, often when not directly engaged with the problem.
Infinity … is your ability to create as many ideas as possible. By having more ideas, you’ll also yield more good ideas. (See the post entitled The 90:10 Rule.)
Interaction … can be described with the saying, two heads are better than one. While it’s not impossible to brainstorm alone, it’s more effective if the imaginative power of many people are leveraged at the same time. By sharing individual ideas and energy, compatible ideas from different points of view can be combined and merged into bigger and more successful ideas.
Inspiration … is the flash of brilliance – the spark of AHA! – that comes when the other elements combust. Different people describe the moment of inspiration differently, but more often than not, it’s usually a spontaneous and fateful event, happening when the problem-solver least expects it, during daydreaming, taking a walk or working on a different project.
Ideas … are needed to make ideas. No, that’s not a joke. To produce ideas – either good or bad – your brain thinks of (or can be guided to think of) other (older) ideas which have helped solve another problem in front of you. In fact, if the other/older ideas are completely unrelated to the current situation, even better. The easiest way to put this into practice: bring to your next brainstorm a large collection of pictures or images. Each photo is essentially an ‘idea’ – which you/your brain can merge into a totally new idea.
What else do you use a tool to help stimulate brainstorming? Please add your comments below!