Do you want to have good, high-quality ideas? In this age of knowledge, having good ideas can separate you from others and put you ahead of the pack.
But how can we get high-quality ideas? As it turns out, a great way to get high-quality ideas is to have a lot of ideas. The Medici Effect (here is my review) says it clearly:
The strongest correlation for quality of ideas is, in fact, quantity of ideas… Pablo Picasso, for instance, produced 20,000 pieces of art; Einstein wrote more than 240 papers; Bach wrote a cantata every week; Thomas Edison filed a record 1,039 patents.
Here is a study cited in the book that proves the relationship between quantity and quality of ideas:
Simonton verified that the relationship between quantity and quality indeed holds true. The number of papers a scientist publishes, for instance, is correlated with the number of citations the scientist receives for his or her top three works. In other words, the best way to see who has written groundbreaking papers is to look at who has published the most.
So here is a tip for finding good ideas:
Produce more ideas
Simple, isn’t it? The more ideas you produce, the more likely you will find high-quality ones.
Here are several ways to produce more ideas:
1. Capture all ideas
A basic way to increase the quantity of ideas is simply to avoid losing ideas. Don’t let an idea slip by once it comes to you. Whenever you get an idea, capture it as soon as possible. Write it down or record it with a recording device. Read 4 Simple Ways to Never Lose Your Ideas for more tips about it.
2. Don’t filter your ideas
By definition, filtering your ideas will reduce the number of ideas you have. Even if an idea doesn’t look good, let it sit for now. Later you might see it from a different perspective which shows the usefulness of the idea. If it doesn’t, you can always trash it later.
3. Find more ideas than you need
If you need five ideas, find ten. If you need ten ideas, find twenty. Finding more ideas than you need is good because you can then choose the best out of them.
4. Produce ideas consistently
Keep producing ideas regardless of your mood. If you are a blogger, keep writing posts. If you are a designer, keep creating new designs. If you are a programmer, keep writing codes. Allocate time for it and make it a habit.
5. Set an idea quota
Related to the previous point, one good way to ensure that you keep producing ideas is to set a target for your output. A writer, for instance, may aim to write at least 1000 words every day. A designer may aim to create one new design each week. Setting a target pushes you to be more productive.
6. Avoid perfectionism
One thing that may hinder you from producing a lot of ideas is perfectionism. If it takes one week to take an idea to 80% quality, it may take one month to take it to 90% and one year to take it to 100%. This is the law of diminishing returns at work. Perfectionism could make you spend the whole year on just one idea while you can actually produce 51 other ideas. It’s better to produce a lot of ideas first, test them, and only then devote more resources to improve the winners.
This tip works well for me, but I’m sure there are a lot of other tips on finding good ideas. Do you have any? I would love to hear it.
Photo by re_birf