Ever felt like you are spinning your wheels but going nowhere fast when it comes to idea generation and idea implementation?
Yeah, we’ve all been there.
You’re sitting in your ‘soon-to-be-success’ start-up space, sipping on lukewarm coffee, and your mind’s as blank as the first page of a brand-new notebook.
“Why can’t I come up with a single idea that’s worth a penny?” you ask yourself.
Don’t beat yourself up about it. You’re not alone, and you struggle not because you’re not smart or creative.
No, it’s just that you were taught how to comply, mass produce, and be cautious (and realistic). You were never taught how to generate ideas so audacious they make your head spin and fill your belly with swarms of excited butterflies.
So, how do you get innovative ideas to flow freely? More importantly, how do you convert these ideas into profitable business opportunities?
That’s what I’m here for. Together, we’ll walk a 10-step path from ‘idea-less’ to ‘idea-success’.
Let’s go! You can master this blueprint for idea generation and idea implementation.
10 Steps Connecting Idea Generation and Successful Idea Implementation
#1. Idea Generation is a Compromise Between Inspiration and Discipline
Regarding ideas, most people sit around, waiting for the Eureka moment to push them out of the bath.
I don’t believe in Eureka. Okay, it did happen; it does happen. People suddenly have an idea, a flash of inspiration.
The reason I don’t believe in Eureka moments is not that these don’t happen.
I don’t believe in them because they are usually the bright explosion at the end of a long, slow burn process.
Innovative ideas don’t come out of the blue; these are shaped through a long sustained effort. And fast and wild imagination.
The trouble is that most people have limited imagination and can’t develop ideas.
(I believe this happens not because we humans are not imaginative, creative and entrepreneurial but because socialisation and education ‘beat’ those out of us).
Even the people who come up with ideas routinely generate ideas that are not interesting, original and transforming.
Generating ideas is hard work.
Industrial societies and economies thrive on perfecting what is done. This is achieved by repeatedly doing the same thing and becoming an expert.
The age of the expert has ended with the rise of AI. Welcome to the age of the maverick!
Don’t give up!
James Altucher claims, and I agree, that becoming an ‘ideas factory’ is a matter of practice and training. Our ability to generate ideas must be trained just like you’d train your body to run a marathon.
Become an ‘ideas factory’ by generating ten to fifteen ideas daily (morning is best) on anything that takes your fancy. You’ll start seeing results in about two weeks (it will get easier, and your ideas will start making more sense).
To come up with ideas for a successful project:
- Create lists of ideas on what the project may be about.
- Make the same list several times – you’ll see that some ideas will stubbornly stick around, but you’ll also come up with ideas you didn’t even know you had in you.
- Select the ideas that sound like they may be a possibility.
Repeat the idea generation at any point where there is a problem, and you need imaginative solutions.
Keep a record. (I usually use pen and paper and keep the lists in a normal folder. Mind maps also work well.)
#2. Become an Idea Implementation Jedi Master (Dream Before Doing)
This is the wacky part of the process of getting a project off the ground.
What I want you to do is spend ten minutes just dreaming of each of the ideas you’ve already selected as a possibility.
Sit comfortably, ensure you won’t be interrupted and start dreaming. See in your mind (in great detail) what realising the idea will be like. Don’t judge, don’t criticise and don’t put yourself down.
In your dream, you are omnipotent, and anything is possible.
It is very important to go into great detail. Suppose you will write a novel – dream about holding it in your hands. How long is it? What is on the cover? Dream about how it feels in your hands? How does it feel to be holding your published novel in your hands?
Write down (record) your dreams and put them in your folder. Mark the dream(s) that felt right: you felt great, and the butterflies in your belly were ones of excitement, not fear.
#3. Plan Like Your Survival Depends On It (Your Success Does)
Remember I said that you are omnipotent?
Forget it! This is only possible in a dream.
Now, you have to look at your dream and ask yourself the following question:
What do I need to do so that my dream can become reality?
A list of all that you need, all the conditions you need to create, with deadlines, is called a plan.
List the resources you think you need to get your idea off the ground.
Have a second look and adjust ‘the needs’.
Set up realistic deadlines in sequences.
If, for instance, you want to design an app, you’ll most likely need:
- Excellent coding skills (are you going to do it, or do you need a partner)
- Splendid graphics;
- Knowledge of the market;
Keep going! How are you going to make sure that you have the resources you need?
Create a plan for your idea. Write it down and put it in your folder.
#4. Strategise Like a Military General
Usually, when people talk about strategy, they talk about what they want to do.
A strategy is about knowing what everyone around you (in the niche) is doing and how you will implement your plan using this knowledge.
To develop a strategy for your project, you need to:
Know who the other actors ‘in the field’ are. This means you should:
- Know who you compete with;
- Know who you cooperate with;
- Know who you learn from;
- Who can help you with your undertaking;
- Who is likely to object;
- What are you going to do about it?
Research the developments in your niche. Answer the questions mentioned above and any other questions you consider relevant. Develop a strategy, write it on a page and put it in your project folder.
#5. Ideas and Plans Without Actions are Good for Nothing
Now that you have a plan and a strategy, you must map your actions.
Go back to your plan and to your strategy. Make lists of small actions to get you to the desired outcome within the planed timeframe. You should generate a list for every day.
Make sure that you assign yourself no more than two or three actions per day and that these can be completed in no more than 30-40 minutes.
You must break the big, daunting task into smaller, doable parts.
Record these actions and put a copy in your project folder. Pin another copy above your desk and make sure that every evening you know what you are doing the next day will bring you closer to completing your project.
#6. Create a Prototype and Improve It
This step is about refinement.
To get back to the example of designing an app (or any piece of writing), your first aim is to have the whole app.
Please do not fall into the ‘perfection game’ – if you wait till it is perfect, you’ll never get it out. You have to make sure that it is good enough.
A mistake many creators make (irrespective of what they create) is stopping at the ‘good enough’ stage.
To develop a product that is not simply good enough but outstanding, you need to get back to it and improve it continuously.
Perfection is not an act but a process.
Look at the prototype you’ve created. What three things can you change that will make it 80% better? Do them!
#7. Develop a Monetisation Strategy
I’ve separated this one as a step in the process, but monetisation is something creators must keep in mind while creating.
Having an idea of who would use your app (monetisation) will affect the way in which you develop it. Deciding whether or not to involve users while designing the app is a feedback loop and a channel for monetisation.
As Robert Kawasaki once said, it is always important to ask yourself, ‘Who gives a sh*t?’
If the answer is ‘nobody’, forget about monetisation and return to the first step.
Come up with ten ideas for monetising your project; record them and place them in your project folder.
#8. Use the Feedback Loops as Your Creative Weapon
It doesn’t matter whether you are designing an app, writing a book or starting a business – to create something that contributes value to people’s lives, you need to solicit feedback; and solicit it often.
You’ll need to decide:
- Who do you ask for feedback?
- What are the points in the creative process at which feedback is absolutely essential?
- How to act on the feedback?
One issue here is that when you solicit feedback, you must ensure that at least some of it is critical (you learn little by people simply telling you that things are great) and that you are strong enough to take it.
It is very painful to hear people critiquing your creation – train yourself to react rationally rather than emotionally.
Whenever you get critical comments, ask yourself whether these are helping you make your creation better. If the answer is ‘yes’, then use the feedback to improve it.
#9. Learn to Cope With the Fear of Creation
Creation is frightening. This is largely because of:
- The necessary effort;
- The level of uncertainty it involves; and
- Fear of failure.
There are ways that people have worked out to cope with the fear of creation (see Jonathan Fields’ book).
Some of these are:
- Create rituals for creation. Figure out when is the best time for you to work on your creative project and do it. Do it for a certain period of time (30 minutes, for instance) every day.
- Create a support network (beehive). Surround yourself with people who go through a similar experience as you do. Returning to our example of creating a computer game, you need to create a ‘beehive’ for yourself consisting of other people creating computer games. Meet once a week for coffee and share your experience of creation.
- Break down your creative project into small stages that are simpler.
- Do not fear the judgement of others. Most of us are eager to please and be pleased. So when we fear that others won’t like or appreciate our work, don’t fear the judgement of others; use it to improve your work!
- Go to ‘ground zero’. Use a few minutes to write down the worst thing that will happen if your project fails. Put it aside. Read what you’ve written on the day after. Is it so horrid? What can you do to offset the worst possibilities? Once you’ve done this, you’ll see it is not as frightening. And if you fail, you’ll be ready to try again.
#10. Remember to Celebrate
This one is pretty obvious, really.
When everything works, have a party. Give yourself a big pat on the back (this can take a different form depending on what you like. I’ll probably get some jewellery, but then something never changes.)
After the celebration, start from the first step. This is what makes life fun!
Idea Generation and Idea Implementation – No Rocket Science
Do you want to write a book?
Start a business?
Develop a proposal?
Follow the ten steps in this guide to develop and implement successful ideas and make your most audacious dreams come true!