Where do ideas come from?

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Tommydickson

I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot recently. In a way, it is the ‘holy grail’ of innovation, one that many innovation books are trying to answer, or help you with – if you can understand where ideas come from, and refine that, so you get better ideas more often, then one can win notoriety/fame and fortune.

As with many things however, it’s just not that easy. Coming up with ‘good ideas’ is an art. Sometimes we think they ‘pop’ into our heads, and we don’t quite know how one minute we had no idea, and the next we are empowered by a thought that we want to develop and share with others.

From reading around on this, and thinking about it, one clear message appears to come out – ideas are often (but not exclusively) not things that come quickly, from a single person in a single moment (as many people believe, in a sudden ‘Eureka’ moment, or having an apple fall on your head), but rather ‘grow’ over a period of time from a network (it’s only the ‘realization/awareness’ of the idea, the ‘connecting of the dots’, that appears sudden).

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Thoughts on ideas, brainstorming, facilitation, and crowdsourcing

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/DrAfter123

Having an “idea” is a uniquely human thing.  It can be fun, beautiful, empowering, motivating, exciting, artistic, valuable. *

Through personal reflection, brainstorming, facilitation and crowdsourcing ideas can be leveraged and improved upon, to the point that the outcome is far better than the initial idea.

Ideas come from creative thinking, considering the previously unconsidered, often referred to as ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking or ‘strategic’ thinking (albeit strategy in many businesses seems, disappointingly, often not to be that creative).

I enjoy the creative process of originating and developing ideas, and so wanted to pull together some thoughts on this.

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An outsider’s perspective of ‘Social Games’ (eg. Zynga’s Mafia Wars, FarmVille, etc.)

Social Games are ‘computer games’ played on the internet, usually via a social networking site (eg, Facebook, mySpace, etc.), which involve interaction with chosen other people (usually nominated friends). In a sense they are a classic example of “Web 2.0”, being the development of the world-wide web to involve greater interaction between online participants.  They have piqued my interest, because a number of my friends are playing them on Facebook, and I really had no idea what they were about.

Companies like Zynga (the maker of some of the largest social games, and who I comment on further below) appear to be quietly growing into powerful market participants, despite mostly being hidden from the public eye (at least so far, most of the social games developers are venture capital funded).

Zynga has an excellent overview, presented by its founders and employees, in this YouTube video:

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