One of the recurring themes of this blog is the process of ideation. In fact, it is one of the essential components to create real value from the articles posed on Crinid. In one sentence, ideation is the idea you are in control of your ideas, and can improve the quality of those ideas through training.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the expression ‘eureka!’. The expression now means as much as a sudden insight. As hit by lightning the solution seems to be right in front of you.
The expression originates from ancient times, when a scholar by the name of Archimedes stepped into his bath. The water in the bath was moved by Archimedes’ body-mass, and he suddenly saw the solution to an age-old math problem – measuring the volume of irregular objects. By measuring how much the water had risen, and knowing all other conditions (the volume of the bath and the amount of water) he would be able to determine the volume of his own body.
The ‘hit by lightning’ metaphor in particular, suggests some kind of luck is involved in the process of generating great ideas. This misconception is fueled by the assumption that if I asked you to give me a great idea on a random subject, you probably wouldn’t be able to deliver that idea at the time of asking. This makes it seem the process of generating great ideas is beyond our control.
But when we take a closer look at the process of generating ideas things are not quite as random as they seem. It can be influenced, controlled and improved by understanding the anatomy of the idea. An idea is not just a solution, an idea consists of three major components.
- Your understanding of a problem
- Your ‘baggage’ (information and experience)
- The output of the problem being processed by your brain – the solution
So when we go back to Archimedes, his problem was obvious – the existing formula’s based on 3 dimensional measurements (length times height times depth) where impossible to apply to objects with irregular mass – such as his body.
His ‘baggage’ is his knowledge of how volume works, knowing math was unable to solve his problem, and a history as a scholar, and his eagerness to solve this mathematical challenge. These first two components are the conditions of the ‘prepared mind’.
The prepared mind
The concept of the prepared mind is best explained with the metaphor of a border checkpoint. The prepared mind is a state of alertness; the guards have been notified of the description of our escaped convict (the problem). Their training has taught them to look out for suspicious profiles and how to identify false ID papers. Every passenger going over the border is checked and double checked if it matches the description of our target until it is found.
The passengers arey a metaphor for anything the mind observes – such as Archimedes’ water displacement. The checkpoint is the prepared mind, and our ‘on the run convict’ is the solution – like using the displacement of water to measure the volume of irregular objects.
The most important part to recognize about the prepared mind is that it is 100% under your control. At the same time, it makes up 66% of a great idea. We can optimize the first 33% – the input or problem – by analyzing it and chopping it into bite sized snacks easily stored in the back of our mind, building the checkpoint. Secondly we can optimize the second 33% – the baggage. A lot of ‘baggage’ comes from experiences or our is safely stored in our sub consciousness. Through techniques such as brainstorming and mindmapping we can create a high quality stream of information to be processed by our prepared mind, eventually leading to the last 33% of a great idea, the solution once problem and solution meet and can be properly identified as such.