Dixie Darr

In creativity, Learning on April 23, 2007 at 3:47 pm

Great Ideas

“Great ideas need landing gear as well as wings.”- C. D. Jackson

New ideas are rarely all that new. Usually, they are new combinations of concepts or adaptations of old ideas. One of the best ways to come up with new ideas is to collect ideas from other people. Mark Twain said, “All ideas are second hand, consciously or unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources and used by the creative person with pride and satisfaction.”

Thomas Edison kept a file of his own ideas and those of others that he thought he could adapt. Author and creativity expert Michael Michalko offers the following techniques for adapting ideas:

  • What can be SUBSTITUTED? (Who else? What else? Other ingredient? Other process? Other power? Other place? Other approach? Can you change the rules?)
  • What can be COMBINED? (How about a blend, an alloy, an assortment, an ensemble? Combine units? Combine purposes with something else? Combine appeals? Combine ideas?)
  • What can I ADAPT from something else to the idea? (What else is like this? What other idea does this suggest? Does the past offer a parallel? What could I copy? Whom could I emulate?)
  • What can I MAGNIFY? (What can be added? More time? Stronger? Higher? Longer? Extra value? Extra features? Duplicate? Multiply? Exaggerate?)
  • What can I MODIFY or change? (What can be altered? New twist? Change meaning, color, motion, sound, odor, form, shape? What other changes can be made?)
  • Can I PUT the idea TO OTHER USES? (New ways to use as? Other uses if modified? Can you make it do more things? Other extensions? Other spin-off? Other markets?)
  • What can be ELIMINATED? (What to subtract? Smaller? Condensed? Miniature? Lower? Shorter? Lighter? Omit? Streamline? Split up? Understate?)
  • What can be REARRANGED the parts? (What other arrangement might be better? Interchange components? Other pattern? Other layout? Other sequence? Transpose cause and effect? Change pace? Change schedule?)
  • Can it be REVERSED? (Transpose positive and negative? How about opposites? Turn it upside down? Reverse roles? Consider it backwards? What if you did the unexpected?)

Start your own idea file. It can be a paper file of newspaper and magazine articles, a collection of index files or a doorful of Post-it notes.

©2007 Dixie Darr. All rights reserved

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