A structured approach for Idea Generation

Low budget, not enough work force, limited means, an entrepreneur is always bound with constraints. And as a result getting struck by some unforeseen problem and being forced to find out some innovative solution in a very short span of time, is an everyday routine in the life of an entrepreneur (and if it is not the case, then maybe one needs to aim a little higher than the current goal or pace one has set). Normally such situations are a bit stressful and the problem with our brains is that our creative abilities take the most hit in such circumstances.

In such situations, following some structured approach to find out the solution or generate some ideas is much more productive than letting our thoughts vaguely wander in search of a solution. We can quickly find new ideas, good in both quantity and quality, by providing a process to our creative thinking.

Let us see a technique to do that. The technique is to challenge one's premises. Most of the time we follow some path and if we hit a blind alley, our focus gets narrowed down to a very specific area around that problem. But many a times taking some steps back can help us find new avenues that solve our problem more effectively.

To apply this technique to a given situation, first write down your initial objective and then break down your work done so far or your plan that brought you to the given situation. You should be able to break down the things to get 4-5 statements between your objective and the current problematic situation. Now start challenging each of your previous statements with at least 2-3 questions. Keep doing that till you reach your objective. Don't spare even your objective, many a times it could be the first cause of all your problems and you might need to change it altogether to get a better solution.

The technique is good in some situations but at times we can not go back to change any of our premises and we have to find a solution from a given point onwards. Also, there are situations when we do not have any premises, for example when we want some idea generation from scratch around a given topic. For these situations, the above technique is not well suited. But we can use another wonderful technique: creating an idea tree. We'll talk about that one in another blog.

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