Sleep On It

Ever need to come up with an idea?

Go Ahead - Sleep On It

We’re always looking for an inspired idea for a new campaign, a way to solve the revenue gap, or how to communicate a complex idea.

Sometimes we start with Google in the hopes that we can find a case study or an inspired idea.

When Google isn’t enough, Brainpickings recently shared a 5-Step Technique for Producing Ideas from a 1939 book  by James Webb Young with an idea-generation process that is as fresh as ever.

“So with the art of producing ideas. What is most valuable to know is not where to look for a particular idea, but how to train the mind in the method by which all ideas are produced and how to grasp the principles which are at the source of all ideas.”  – James Webb Young

A new combination

The following process is based on the concept that any new idea is simply a new combination what already exists. And, that the ability to generate new combinations depends on the ability to see relationships between different elements.

The choice is yours: sit around waiting for inspiration to strike or use these five proven steps to produce a new idea:

  • Step 1: Gather Raw Material This is where it pays to have a content folder that you regularly deposit good information. But if you don’t have one, or you’re looking for inspiration on a topic new to you, here’s how to gather quality raw information quickly:
    • Search on Google “your topic FAQs” or “Why your topic is important” or “How to measure your topic.” 
    • Check Amazon for books on your topic. Use the “Look Inside” tool to review the table of contents. Read the reviews of the book to see what people identified as the most valuable content in the book and what gaps were in the book. 
    • Run a quick survey to your housefile using SurveyMonkey. Run the same survey for a few days on your Facebook Fan page. Run the survey on your favorite listserv and message boards. 
    • Do a search on listservs and message forums for your topic keywords. 
    • This is the toughest step, so we recommend that you set a time limit, e.g. I’ll collect all the data I can research in 60 uninterrupted minutes. A defined time limit makes it easier to actually “start” this step.
  • Step 2: Digest the Raw Material – Search for patterns, trends, and especially “connections” in the material you’ve gathered.
  • Step 3: Unconscious Processing – this is where you sleep on it. Or, as a young Agent K in Men in Black III says “it’s time to get pie.” Eat a piece of pie and talk about anything but the problem you’re trying to solve or the idea you’re trying to come up with. My mom used to say “put it on the back burner.”
  • Step 4: The A-Ha Moment – Out of nowhere your idea will appear. It will come to you when you are least expecting it. This is important: write it down right away so you don’t forget your initial nuggets of inspiration.
  • Step 5: Idea Meets Reality – Ideas only work when you put them into action. Thomas Edison didn’t invent the light bulb. Edison  instead invented the first commercially practical light bulb using a carbon filament. He then had to sell that idea to a group of investors to start the Edison Light Company. You too, will need to let your idea go and encourage other people absorb, modify, and make your idea their own in order to make it reality.

Get some extra sleep and wow us.