Idea generation or ideation

What is it?

“To stimulate creativity, one must develop the childlike inclination for play and the childlike desire for recognition.” Albert Einstein

Everybody wants to have great ideas, but have you ever wondered what an idea is? If you haven’t, take a few moments to think about it. One answer is that ideas are connections.

Any idea, no matter how trivial, is an association between previous, established ideas. These connections happen in our minds all the time - often spontaneously and below our level of awareness. Another interesting characteristic of these connections is that you can’t predict anything about them beforehand.

Many times, ideas are formed by associating two completely unrelated concepts, and in unexpected or unusual ways.

  • To create the movable type, Gutenberg connected the idea of the wine press and the coin stamp.
  • To create the concept of a mass-circulation newspaper, Joseph Pulitzer combined large-scale advertising with high-speed printing.

Great ideas may even seem to be random at times - but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do to develop them. Because of the randomness in idea generation, having great ideas is not a task that can be approached directly. The only way to increase the likelihood of having great ideas is to increase the amount of ideas that you have at your disposal to form connections. Ideas, no matter how simple, are the raw materials for higher-level ideas. The more ideas you have, the more material your mind will have to associate and generate a good one.

The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.

Creative Commons Licence
SMILE - Idea generation or ideation by Bernard Leong, Lee Iwan and Litemind blog modified by Marion Kelt, Glasgow Caledonian University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Based on two works 1. and 2.