4 Steps to Generate More Creative Ideas, and Better Ones

4 Steps to Generate More Creative Ideas, and Better Ones - Innovation ExcellenceIn 1939, James Webb Young worked at an advertisement agency (think “Mad Men”…), when a co-worker walked into his office and said:

“You have produced a lot of advertising ideas. Just how do you get them?”

James initially thought it was a joke, but soon realized it wasn’t. His co-worker really wanted to know, and the agency was waiting to learn how to generate more, and better ideas.

A somewhat, yet less flattering event happened to me 71 years later, in 2010, after presenting the idea for what became penveu and was launched 4 years later, to the company’s board of directors. One of the directors (and original founder) of the company came to my office, and flat out told me: “this idea, like any great invention, was accidental!”

However, both Young and I did the same thing–we were inspired to understand why and how we got great ideas, and after much research and thinking, we reached relatively similar conclusions.

James Young’s conclusions were published in his 59-page classic book, A Technique for Producing Ideas: the five-step formula anyone can use to be more creative in business and in life!

I, on the other hand, am still writing my book… Our conclusions were very similar, and I will boil them down to four main steps:

  1. Collect as many ideas as possible. Both broad and narrow, superficial and deep, generic and specialized. Write them down, or record them with a voice recorder. Not so much that you will remember them, but to “implant” them better in your brain. I read Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, and more, and I watch TED videos and any interesting video I find on YouTube while on my treadmill every morning.
  2. Let the ideas incubate in your head. Procrastinate. You don’t need (and can’t) force old ideas to connect in your head. Furthermore, the longer you wait, the more ideas you may collect before two old ideas combine into a new one. There is really nothing to do now…
  3. Perform high-intensity, completely unrelated activities on a regular basis. For me, it was flying airplanes as a pilot, riding fast motorcycles, and more recently–flying radio controlled airplanes, some of which fly faster than 130 miles per hour.
  4. Take a shower. No, seriously. A relaxing activity following an intense one is when your brain will start making those connections and generate new and better ideas. This is your serendipity moment. Make sure you have a way to capture those ideas…

Follow those simple steps, and you will increase the quantity and quality of your ideas.

image credit: en.wikipedia.org

Innovation Excellence

Wait! Before you go…

Choose how you want the latest innovation content delivered to you:

Four Rules to Snap Judge a New VentureDr. Yoram Solomon is an inventor, a creativity researcher, coach, consultant, and trainer to large companies and their employees. For his Ph.D. he studied why people are more creative in startup companies than in mature ones. He also holds an MBA and LLB. Yoram was a professor of Technology and Industry Forecasting at the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, UT Dallas School of Management; is active in regional innovation and technology commercialization; and is also a speaker and author on predicting the technology future and identifying opportunities for market disruption.

Yoram Solomon




How Brexit Has Affected UK E-commerce Businesses

By Hubert Day | November 22, 2022

Photo by Zyro on Unsplash   The popularity of online shopping was already growing at an impressive rate – and…

Read More

Overcoming range anxiety: three tips for EV owners

By Hubert Day | October 27, 2022

Photo by Jenny Ueberberg on Unsplash   In the last few years, electric vehicles (EVs) have become more and more…

Read More


  1. Marshall Barnes on March 6, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Yep. That’s one sure way that those, who haven’t any idea about creativity, where it comes from, how to develop and amplify it – so it becomes a powerful, cerebral force that will deliver at will, could learn how to get a few more creative and better ideas. Or, they could learn from a master, with a proven track record of applying it in multiple areas and making significant breakthroughs in each, who would never suggest a single one of the above.

    Then again, the objectives are obviously dissimilar…

Leave a Comment