Have you ever tried to get your team to brainstorm a breakthrough idea for a product or service only to find the process mostly yields extensions of existing ideas.

Research on creative thinking gives us these four simple suggestions that will greatly aid in generating great ideas in a short period of time:

Fluency: Whoever said one good idea is better than a thousand mediocre ones probably never invented anything. More is better. One of the inhibitors to creative thinking is your voice of judgment that kicks in when you think too long about the viability of your idea. The key is to generate ideas a faster than you can evaluate them. This will produce some unusual and impractical ideas that will serve as triggers for novel ideas that work.

  • Practice: Give your team a quota of at least 100 ideas in 15 minutes for each challenge. Post them on the wall for all to see. Use these raw ideas to trigger new ideas that are both novel and viable.

Flexibility: Steve Jobs remarked, “Creativity is just connecting things.” Creating a breakthrough idea may simply be a matter of reapplying an idea from one situation to another. For example, to improve their patient experience during hospital stay, a medical center sent their doctors to live in a posh hotel one week and their own hospital the next. The center simply applied the practices of the hotel to the hospital to completely transform the patient experience.


Learn Inc.com Columnist Jeff Degraff’s remaining two Fs for effective brainstorming and how they can be applied in your organization.