Quite often, when we are brainstorming, we stop too early. The novel ideas, the innovative ideas, and the crazy ideas are usually the ones near the end of the list of 20. In our mind, we often skip the unlikely ideas during the first round, but when we force the process to keep going past 11 and 14, we find ourselves writing down those ideas we consciously or subconsciously passed over. In an interview with Tim Ferriss, James Altucher discusses how “perfection is the enemy of the idea muscle.” Altucher recommends making a brainstorming list every day to become more innovative.
The brainstorming or mindstorming process is an excellent thing to do when you unplug and have “thinking time.” Take a notepad and a pen and go off to think, reflect, plan, and dream. George Schultz said that setting aside time to think was very important to success. Also, switching between individual and group brainstorming, Paulus and Kenworthy discussed how both formats produce good results.
When you finally finish your list of 20, take a small action. Share one or two of the ideas with someone. Start working on one of the ideas. Brian Tracy writes about an example where someone struggled to get to twenty items. The last idea on the list was “buy a book about this.” The person left the session, purchased a book, and found the critical breakthrough.
Tim Ferriss (2017), Tools of Titans (Mariner Books).
Paul Paulus and Jared Kenworthy (2019), “Effective Brainstorming,” The Oxford Handbook of Group Creativity and Innovation edited by Paul Paulus and Bernard Nijstad (Oxford University Press).
Brian Tracy (2004), The Psychology of Selling (Harper Collins Leadership).