Ever felt the pressure to come up with a good idea?  A really good idea?  Because it was going to be the difference maker for your career; significantly increase your course grade or impress someone important to you.

How do you go about doing this?  What steps do you take when you need to solve a problem or seize an opportunity?  Your process may be so well perfected that you really need to stop and think about the steps you take.  And if it is…let’s throw some new ideas your way.  That’s really the point of brainstorming, right?!

Here are three components needed to be successful in ideation:

1. Time – if you’re pressured, you won’t perform nearly as well.  It’s true, at least in this type of thinking process.  Give your brain some time to simmer.  You’ll make better and more complex ideas available to your problem.  If possible, give yourself some time to sleep on it.  Truly a recharge will give you a whole new perspective.  Ever notice how your best ideas come when you’re really not consciously thinking about them:  in the shower, on the 300th ride home and watching your son’s baseball game?

2.  New perspective – You know your opportunity well.  That should aid you in this process of coming up with a solution.  In reality, however, sometimes it stifles you.  Because you’re already onto the next step of evaluation, rather than truly allowing yourself to come up with more new ideas.  Brainstorming is not evaluating.  But, if you add someone to the mix that doesn’t know the politics of the implementation, or the previous history, or really have a hidden agenda, he/she can add immense value.  It’s similar to adding a wide-eyed child that can’t see or say “no.” Our Mindscape team recently started taking a cross-functional approach to brainstorming client needs.  In addition to better ideas, the team members have more accountability to the process because they were involved at the beginning.

3. Wine (oh I meant to say research) – or a combo of the two.  Maybe the best idea for solving your problem is just a minor modification on something that already exists.  Creativity isn’t always about something brand new.  In fact, in the Creativity and Innovation class I teach to Davenport students, we practice an exercise called “Where else could it work?”  The premise is looking at successful solutions and then finding new problems to solve using them.  For example, the idea of a rotating toothbrush took off successfully.  What other products would benefit from rotation while in use?

And here’s the best element to add to your brainstorming session…tenacity.  Stick with your process.  Give yourself 22 ideas or opportunities, not just the typical 3 or 4 we usually come up with.  By adding the other three components, you’re much more likely to reach this number.  Brainstorming fuels the mind for other thought processes too.  Enjoy the journey!