Innovation and Enterprise: An Insight into the Art of Idea Generation

The following is a post from Patrick G. Mackaronis. Patrick is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, Patrick has talked about Innovation that can only be possible by idea generation and here Patrick has talked about the insights into Idea generations. Patrick can be best reached on Twitter at @patty__mack.

Idea generation is a quest for something new. And the best part is that it is probably around you, waiting to be discovered! All you need to do is go around systematically. There are several things you could do about it. You have to be vigilant and aware of the world around you, 24hours a day, seven days a week. And surely, that’s easier said than done.

The art of idea generation is nonetheless something that can be cultivated. It needs to be practiced and mastered. Business schools, internet, books are all cluttered with exercises for practicing idea generation but it all boils down to “brainstorming.” What this necessarily means is that you select an issue (or even do without one)and suggest ideas to address it. This practice is best when done in a group. The aids that you use to complement a session do make a lot of difference. Try using newspapers, internet websites, a market place. Anything could be stimulus to developing an idea. What’s important here is being highly imaginative, non-judgemental and open to other’s ideas and ensuring a continuous, unhindered flow of thoughts. If it gets difficult speaking in a brainstorming session, you can even switch to brain- mapping where in you write down your ideas on a sheet, then shuffle your sheets and add on to it, so that you keep being introduced to new thoughts.

But surely, it can’t be that easy. Each one of us has the ability to think but what keeps some us from innovating is the fear of failure. Innovation is all about risk taking. If you are to innovate, you have to risk thinking of a weird idea or even a failing idea. Idea generation is not at all about generating only good ideas, its infact more about thinking of what hasn’t been thought of yet. You have to be a contrarian about the new, accepted “conventional wisdom.” Remember that there is always a “second right answer.” You need not be afraid of reinventing he wheel, coz when u do it without information of the first one, your wheel might be more relevant to the existing world than what the earlier would have been, even after undergoing several stages of modification.

Broadly speaking, an entrepreneurship idea may be either evolutionary or revolutionary. What this means is that your idea may be an improvisation of a pre-existing product or it may open up an undiscovered market, exploiting untapped potential. Evolutionary ideas emerge out of studying the market reactions. The key to a revolutionary idea is being far-sighted, a visionary and instinctive. You might come up with a product that’s to gain importance a few years from now in view of the changes the world is undergoing today. Or you might even develop a product which has no market as of now, is not even asked for and that’s simply because its so unthinkable. Yeah, that was exactly the case with the cell phone and then the blackberry.

Its by regular practice of inspection and questioning that you’ll be able to identify an opportunity and later on, be able to take advantage of it. Its just the opposite of Déjà vu, you’ve been there hundreds of times before and yet you know nothing about it.

Thinking out an idea also includes the thought of selling that idea to yourself, as well as to others. You are the best person to sell your idea. Being an innovator is a brave thing to do, the market does not always welcome changes, so if you think of something, then it requires a lot of study and determination to have it implemented. You have to live with it everyday, and see it happening. Such a determination comes out of purpose, it comes when you are frustrated by the way things are and you want to change it. This is one of the strongest thought provoker. If you don’t see everything broken, you are never going to come up with something new.

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