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Thinking Up New Ideas

One of the most important actions for anyone in an executive or managerial position is thinking. If you don’t leave yourself time to think then you are going to be working at far less than maximum effectiveness.

Ok, so you acknowledge the rightness of what I’ve just said, and you decide “I’m going to do some thinking”.

But what exactly do you do then?

Here’s some suggestions!

1. Set aside a specific time, perhaps half an hour, in which you sit down somewhere you can’t be interrupted. Use a blank pad of paper and write down every thought that comes to you. Don’t try to force it, and don’t worry if your thoughts dry up for a while.

2. Do the same, but this time with a mind mapping programme on your computer. The advantage of putting your thoughts into a mindmapper is that when you have finished you can arrange and group your thoughts logically.

3. With both the above methods, when you have finished the set time, go through the thoughts and evaluate them. Identify the ones that are “goers” and mark them up for action or further consideration.

4. Same again, but this time sit down with a mind mapping programme and construct and arrange the map as you go along. This is particularly useful when you have a specific problem or issue to think about.

5. If you have a specific issue to think about, try jotting down a few thoughts about it every day for a week. Don’t refer to your previous notes when you do this. By the end of the week you may find that your mind has come up with a lot of new insights.

6. You can use a similar method for making decisions. After doing all the necessary research, try arranging the possible solutions in order of preference (and don’t forget that “Do nothing” is usually one of the options). Do this every day for a week, without referring to your previous order of preference, and you will have a much better idea of what you really want.

7. When carrying out thinking as a group, it’s important to remember that groups don’t like people who rock the boat. So members who are unhappy about a proposal may say nothing because they don’t want to be seen to be opposing the majority. To get a good group solution it is essential that the thoughts of each individual are taken into consideration.

Reader Comments (6)

Really helpful post! I personally use wridea ( ) as mind mapping software. I'm just recently experimenting with it, but I think it will improve my post development. Usually I just jot things down in my green eco notebook.

I definitely think that generating new ideas is a major part of managing any project. As far as decision making, I go old fashioned. A brass coated penny, lovingly named "the magic penny." I flip, and it always lands on the side my subconscious wants it to.
August 22, 2008 at 4:45 | Unregistered CommenterCorey Freeman
I always have a note book in my back pocket. As soon as I realise I need to think about something I try and immediately squeeze a few minutes worth of ideas out to get the flow 'lubricated'

I then pretty much do what you suggest in terms of multiple sets of notes without reference to the previous.

I can't recommend Freemind ( more highly as mind mapping software that gets as close to the speed of getting things down as a pencil and an A3 pad....
August 30, 2008 at 20:45 | Unregistered CommenterJust7Things
I use a technique I call "Planting the seed". I brainstorm on my challenge for 15 minutes then leave it for a day. Often when I return, solutions come more quickly.

September 6, 2008 at 17:33 | Unregistered CommenterJim Estill
It's important to read.
A lot of ideas come through reading.

Then, it's important to filter your ideas, and not follow each and every one. Choose the best, and work hard on them.

"The esence of genius is to know what to overlook"
- William James
September 8, 2008 at 7:10 | Unregistered CommenterDanGTD
For reflection: where and when do I get my best ideas?
August 13, 2014 at 20:55 | Unregistered Commentermichael
My answer: while walking, having established a problem and thinking it over in my mind.
August 16, 2014 at 23:05 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu

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