The Power of New Ideas

You don't have to be "artistic" to be creative. Everyone can learn to generate bold, groundbreaking ideas by adopting a creative approach  and applying the best thinking tools.

There are three key approaches to generating new ideas:

  1. Breaking old thinking patterns.
  2. Making new connections.
  3. Getting fresh perspectives.

We'll look at each of these elements in turn. Then, we’ll outline five ways to foster the best environment for creative thinking to flourish.

1. Breaking Old Thinking Patterns

We can all get stuck in certain "tracks" of thought. They may be so comfortable that we don't even realize that they're holding us back! So, to have fresh ideas, we need to break away from established patterns of thought and start to see new paths ahead.

Here are some of the best ways to do it:

Challenge Your Assumptions

You likely bring a set of assumptions to each and every situation. Many of them may turn out to be true, but challenging your preconceptions can also open up some exciting possibilities.

2. Making New Connections

Another way to generate new ideas is to make new and unexpected connections. Some of the best ideas seem to occur almost by chance – you see or hear something unconnected with the situation you're trying to resolve, and a lightbulb goes on in your head!

For instance, inventor George de Mestral was inspired to invent Velcro® by the burdock burrs that got stuck to his dog's fur during a countryside walk. And architect Mick Pearce developed a groundbreaking climate-control system based on the self-cooling mounds built by termites.

3. Finding Fresh Perspectives

Finally, you can add extra dynamism to your thinking by taking a step back from your usual standpoint and viewing a problem through "fresh eyes."

You'll often get a surprising new take on an issue by talking to someone with a different perspective, maybe because of their age, life experience, or cultural background.

Or, try playing the "If I Were" game. Ask yourself, how would I address this challenge "if I were…?" You could be an athlete, a successful entrepreneur, Abraham Lincoln… anyone!

Consider how the person you've chosen would approach the problem, and see if that gives you any new ideas. Identify that person's distinguishing characteristics, and use them to address the challenge. The entrepreneur, for instance, might take bigger risks, while the athlete would focus on achieving success through intensive training.