Creativity is central to many careers. Why? Because without creativity you cannot successfully come up with good business ideas, products or sales pitches. It is the reason why it is such a sought after skill in the fast-growing business world. You might brush it off and think that creativity is best left to artists and writers but the actual fact is, it can work for everyone.
There’s no need to be jaded if creativity is not in your current playbook. There are ways in which you can develop your creativity in order to come up with new and exciting business ideas. In addition, newfound creativity can also help you re-think and re-invent your current business ventures. Actually, after reading this summary, you will realise that you can achieve anything with a little bit of creativity.
In this summary of 21 days to a Big Idea, readers will discover:
- How to be creative as a child
- The power of brainstorming and identifying your passion
- Thinking about solutions for universal problems
- Adapting existing technology
- The “and” Technique
- Using the internet as a guide
- The Billboarding Technique
Key lesson one: How to be creative as a child
If you think you are not creative, the simplest thing you can try to do is to think like a child. It’s a known fact that kids are much more creative than adults. It was proven in 1968 by social scientist George Land. He gave kids a NASA creativity test starting at age five and showed that they exhibited almost 100 per cent creativity. Just five years later at age ten, this creativity level dropped a staggering 70 per cent to 30 per cent. Worst yet, five years later, only twelve per cent of them showed the same level of creativity.
Our creativity decreases with age as we lose our child-like imaginations and are burdened with more responsibilities. In order to regain the creativity level of a five-year-old, you should begin to make wishes. Yes, that’s right, wishes. Think about what you wish you could do without any limitations. Alexander Graham Bell wished to send voices through a wire before the invention if the telephone and the wish to fly led the Wright brothers to develop the first aeroplane.
This is how great ideas are born. Adult minds use their rationality to bring child-like wishes to life.
Key lesson two: The power of brainstorming and identifying your passion
Brainstorming is a helpful technique that has been in use for centuries. It helps to eliminate any blocks to creativity which we may have. Thomas Edison was one of the many creative minds who relied on brainstorming. One of his notebooks from 1888 has a list of over 100 ideas that he came up with. He wrote of an electric piano, artificial silk and a snow compressor to name a few. This was his attempt at finding one good idea that he could pursue.
By putting our ideas down on paper, no matter how ridiculous and fantastical they may sound, will enable us to identify those ideas which are achievable. Moreso, it will uncover possibilities which you would usually dismiss and hidden skills and passions which you probably wouldn’t have known existed before you put them to paper. The ideas that you write down during a brainstorming session may have common themes which will guide you further. It will lead you to the ideas you should focus on and develop. It is recommended that you come up with 30 to 50 ideas in one brainstorming session.
Another thing to remember is that you should be deterred by brainstorming ideas which fall outside your area of expertise. You don’t need to be a specialist in a specific area t solve problems or come up with an innovative idea. In fact, not being an expert may work to your advantage as you will see things that the experts don’t see. Many people who have worked in a specific sector for a long time, are often too close to the problem or too set in their ways to see the possible solutions.
Key lesson three: Thinking about solutions for universal problems
An easy way to start getting creative ideas is to keep an “idea notebook”. As you go about your day, use it to write down all the problems you identify. It doesn’t matter if they’re big or small problems but try to identify at least twenty different problems you encounter. By doing this you can then identify the problems that are worth solving. And when you know what problems are worth solving, you can get started on your new and exciting ideas!
The problems may be boring, but the way you solve them don’t have to be. The solution you discover may benefit people from all over the world and make you a load of money in the process. Take Bruce Johnston for example, he created the Breathe Right nasal strips because he had trouble breathing at night. His creation led to a multi-million dollar business which helped others who had the same problem.
Even Mark Zuckerberg’s original version of Facebook was developed to solve a problem. The problem was that no girls wanted to date him. Whether Facebook solved his problem or not is debatable, but it sure made him rich in the process!
Key lesson four: Adapting existing technology
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to solve a problem. Sometimes you just have to adapt and improve existing technologies. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, some of the best ideas have come from adapting existing technologies. If you think about it, apps are only successful because of the popularity of smart devices.
If you find a technology that interests you, take the time to research it and find out its capabilities, features and benefits. Once you have this, go back to your passions identified in your brainstorming session and the problems you have listed in your idea notebook. See how this existing technology can fit into your new service or product which is focussed on your identified passions.
An example of this includes the adaptation of drones which are mainly used for warfare. With just a little bit of creativity, these drones can be adapted to transport medical kits in an emergency or drop life vests to swimmers who find themselves caught in the current. All it takes is a little it of creative thinking to take it to new heights!
Key lesson five: The “and” technique
Mattimore is a firm believer in quick thinking to work on your creativity. One of the techniques he uses for brainstorming is called the “and” technique. He asks people to come up with brand new ideas in 30 seconds using the technique.
The And technique encourages people to combine two words that have no association with the other. It’s easily implemented by having two sets of cards with either nouns or adjectives written on them. Thereafter all you have to do is choose two cards and come up with a new invention based on the two random words.
If you want to keep your ideas focused on a specific business, customize the cards and make one a fixed noun related to your business. For example, if you are a florist, one of the cards could be ‘flowers’ or if you own a cafe, you could have ‘coffee’. That way you will always have a combination which you can relate to your business.
The And technique is simple and effective. Not only will you be forced to think outside the box but the ideas you come up with will also be unique.
Key lesson six: Using the internet as a guide
Another useful tool to get your creative ideas flowing is at the tip of your fingertips. The internet. The internet can be an excellent source of inspiration if you just know how to use it.
Since the information online is constantly updated, you have access to current information and trends. The best part of this – it’s free. You can conduct your own market research and all the information is available freely. There’s no need to pay anyone to research trends for you. Companies like JWT, Cassandra Daily and TrendHunter.com offer free annual reports or monthly newsletters on trends, fields of innovation and new products to look out for. You could also look at online presentations, speeches and videos to keep up to date on trends in your field of interest. In this way, you’re keeping yourself and your business on the pulse of what is current, relevant and trending.
You can thereafter identify the trends that interest you and take it from there. The six questions: who, what, when, where, why and how will help you outline your potential product or service.
For example, look at the popular trend of mindfulness and how it is being implemented in classrooms. You can ask yourself:
Who else needs mindfulness training?
What type of mindfulness training will be most beneficial?
When can you implement this training?
Where can you implement this training?
Why do you want to teach mindfulness in these situations?
How can you make mindfulness a successful business?
The answers to these questions will set you on your path to success.
Key lesson seven: The Billboarding technique
Billboarding is a technique that will enable you to identify what makes your product stand out. It involves three steps.
1. Coming up with a snappy name for your product. You have to ensure that your product or service is clearly defined and the problems that it solves are known upfront.
2. List all the benefits of your product or service. Along with what problems it solves, add all the ways in which the customer will benefit from it.
3. Use the strongest benefit identified above and use it to create your slogan. It will be the main subject of the slogan which catches customers attention.
These three steps will make sure that your product or service is easily remembered by customers. Say for example you start the mindfulness training as mentioned previously. You have decided to implement it the day before a couple gets married as a form of counselling to ensure their marriage starts of on a healthy note. The name of your product could be “Mindful Mates” and your slogan could be “Learn to be mindful now to ensure a healthy marriage later”. With this, you are letting people know upfront what the main purpose of your service is whilst keeping it short and sweet.
The key takeaway from 21 Days to a Big Idea is:
21 Days to a Big Idea gives you exactly what the title states. It does this by first developing your creativity and then by showing you how to combine the creative and rational parts of your brain. With this combination, you can then come up with big, interesting and new ideas and unconventional ways to put them into action. Remember to think like a kid to spark your creativity again. Brainstorm and use The And Technique to come up with new ideas both quickly and efficiently eliminating all hesitations and hindrances. Use the internet to identify trending subjects and new interests. You can then put everything together and test out your new product or service using the Billboarding technique. In doing so you can create a sustainable business in as little as 21 days.
How can you implement the lessons learned in 21 Days to a Big Idea:
First, kickstart your creativity by letting go of adult hesitations and begin thinking like a child again. Then, make sure you have your idea notebook on hand to write down the daily problems you observe. This can be the source of your ideas as you look at existing technologies and ho you can adapt them to solve these problems. And whatever you do, don’t forget to brainstorm. It will be the foundation which you use to combine your creativity and rationality to come up with sustainable, innovative business ideas.