More often than not, simply sitting and attempting to pull ideas out of your head isn’t the best way of generating creativity. Sometimes, you need to feed your brain, to stimulate it. Your goal is to look at things differently, and there are a number of ways to do this. I look at magazines, for example. If I’m trying to design a product for children, I’ll investigate the children’s section at Barnes and Noble. I might visit the mall or watch a current movie.
Another strategy is to change your habits. Get out of your rut. This change can be as simple as taking a new route to work or switching the radio station. Making new friends almost always helps me – they are likely to possess an entirely different perspective on the world. Mix things up a bit and get out of your comfort zone.
I applied all these strategies to the new children’s indoor basketball game I wanted to invent. After I’d asked myself questions about the construction of existing products, fed my brain, and changed some of my habits, I returned to my sketch pad and wrote down some of the things I’d observed. I focused in on the backboard and rim of the product.
The backboard needn’t be square – it could be the shape of something. And why did the rim need to be a rim? Why not a mouth or hands, something that could catch something else? The backboard could be the face of a hippo and the rim the mouth, for example. And the ball could be food for the hippo! I was changing the rules. Maybe I would change the size of the rim, or make multiple rims. I could add a character, like a clown. The clown’s hands could support the rims, which would be cups, like in a circus. I was just trying to bring new ideas to a tired product. These are all examples of where my observations took me. But the idea I settled on was a little different.
When I was feeding my brain, I saw a poster of Michael Jordan. And right away, a connection was formed. Why couldn’t the backboard take the shape of Michael? I put his hands around the rim. And the Michael Jordan Wall Ball was formed.
It was all about looking at something differently – that’s what all these exercises were devoted to.
Remember: make an idea quote. Learn to see differently. Exercise your brain. And write down what stimulates it.
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