How About a Little Forced Serendipity?
How would you like to be able to invent new and exciting possibilities for your business and in your life? Why notlearn from the inventors and idea generators? A chapter of one my books focuses on what we can learn fromunderstanding what triggers new inventions. I’ve analyzed dozens of inventions and new ideas and asked myself,“What was it that really made this happen?” What I found might surprise you but it may also suggest some usefulways to find exciting new possibilities for your business.Many interesting new products have come from instances of
. Lasers, televisions, cocoa cola,telephones, Velcro, the paper making process and the first successful photographic process are all results of information that came together in serendipitous ways. How might you make use of this creative trigger in your ownwork? Start by staying in touch with what’s happening around you and spending a certain portion of your timewandering and wondering. Everything is connected and everything has potential meaning to your work so keeplooking for possible connections. Great ideas often come while day dreaming, sleeping, or while doing mindlesstasks so be ready for these. Mindless tasks aren’t so mindless after all. I do some of my greatest ideation whiledriving or flying so I make sure there is always some way of recording these (notebook, recorder etc.). These ideastend to be fleeting - they come quick and they leave quickly and you don’t want to lose them.Warren Bennis said, “Everywhere you trip a treasure lies.” This suggests another source of ideas. What are the
things that annoy you and make you uncomfortable
? What are the things that make your client uncomfortable?Any source of pain is also a great potential source for a creative idea to reduce or eliminate that pain. In each of these answers there is a possible treasure and a possible business opportunity for you. Keep track of theseannoyances and brainstorm things that will help avoid them.
Mistakes and accidents
are frequent catalysts for new ideas. Scotch guard, silly putty, laughing gas, Corn flakes,and vulcanizing are just a few of the many examples of new products that would never have arrived if someonedidn’t make a mistake. Yet, we tend to think of mistakes as something to forget rather than to learn from. Next timeyou make a mistake ask yourself, “What possibilities exist here and how might I take advantage of them?” Another interesting question to keep in mind is, “What’s good about this?” There lies some good in any negative situationand, when you probe into it, there’s a good chance you’ll find something nobody has thought about.One of the most interesting sources for new ideas is
, which is taking a thought process from onetechnology and applying to another. No matter what your field is some of the best ideas come from other areas.Often, the farther away these areas are from your own, the more exciting the connections are. Some promising newtechniques for detecting tumors are coming from the use of missile tracking technologies. Some new solutions togall stone removal are coming from the study of gasoline anti-knock compounds. It pays to be well read in areasother than your own specialty and to be open to new idea triggers from these areas. There is something I refer to asthe
Law of Connectivity
that suggests that everything in this world is somehow connected. If you really want to getnew, creative ideas for your business take a physical or mental excursion to some far away areas and force fit a fewof these connections back to your own situation. Try it. You have nothing to lose, everything to gain, and the tripwill be fun.The last source I’d like to share with you I call the
Willie Sutton logic of natural elements
. Willie Sutton was a bank robber who was asked why he robbed banks. His classic answer was, “Because that’s where the money is.” So whynot rely on nature to give us clues for new ideas? That’s where the greatest ideas come from. Why not copy them? Nature is all around us and it contains some of the most powerful metaphors and triggers for new ideas. If you arehaving a hard time generating new ideas the best stimulant may be as simple as taking a walk in the woods andlooking for interesting connections and answers. It’s also a rather enjoyable experience. Whoever said the process of generating new ideas had to be painful? As a matter of fact, having fun is a must if you really want great new idea production. New ideas come when you’re able to get well outside your normal thinking domain and all these