How many times a day do you think of a better way to do something? Or come up with an idea for a side project or new venture? Most of the time our ideas aren't bad at all. It's just that they're unfinished. They're often only half of an idea.
So how do we turn these good ideas into great ideas?
After working in the design industry for 11 years, founding a well known educational blog, releasing an internationally acclaimed book, and presenting all over the USA on a 3-month speaking tour, I can tell you that there are three easy ways to take your ideas to the next level.
1. SCRATCH YOUR OWN ITCH
When I was seven years old, I was quite the daredevil. I would ride down our steep driveway belly down. I know, not the smartest idea, however what I did do was flatten the empty cardboard boxes my dad had and tape them all around my forearms, legs and torso. I was a cardboard Ironman. My parents couldn't afford to buy me knee pads, shin pads and wrist pads so I had to make do. They eventually bought me the "approved" safety gear at my next birthday but it wasn't even close to the safety coverage I had with my own invention!
You know your needs more than anyone else. If there's a product or service that doesn't exist (or not to the standard you require) then that's an opportunity begging to be let out.
Even if it's not your own "itch", in order to make your ideas great, it's important to approach them with this very attitude. Think intuitively and ask yourself, what is the natural behavior that I'm drawn towards?
Power tip #1: Rather than wondering if it's a "niche" idea, think about simplicity and practicality. A great idea ultimately solves a human-centered problem with relevance and ease. So embrace your own needs and trust in your perspective.
As a designer and art director, it's common for the role to undertake a fair amount of alone time at the beginning of a project. This "alone time" can only take an idea so far. In my experience and I'm sure many of my fellow creatives can testify, the magic happens through collaboration.
Whether it's with a partner copywriter, other designers, the creative director, or even a family member (without divulging private information of the brief of course) – it's truly the dynamic of group input that adds a new dimension to any idea.
By including the thoughts of others, we're molding the idea tighter and clearer. This molding is through conversations from others who have seen different perspectives, heard different sounds, and tasted different experiences than you. It's a win win.
Power tip #2: Collaboration is not only the crafter of a great idea, it's also the filter of a bad one. Spark collaboration in your idea generation process and you'll fast track that into something tangible and actionable.
Thomas A. Edison once said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work”. Many of us have heard this quote and it’s uplifting because of the sheer weight of his achievements. He literally tested his idea of the light bulb into being. Exhausting all possibilities until the right one finally worked.
It’s this phase of testing that evolves a good idea into a great one. The testing turns thoughts into facts. Theory into reality. Words into something functional. It’s the quickest way to find out if your idea will work or not. Take infomercials for example. They can often be hypnotic because the testing is incredibly vigorous, to the point that they answer our doubts by showing us.
So how do we test efficiently? I suggest you first replicate your idea into a smaller scale and go from there. Document the data and make measured alterations with further testing until you reach your end goal.
Power tip #3: Look at testing your idea also as a platform to come up with new ideas. As you refine one, be sure not to get too side-tracked. Know when you have a great single-minded idea and when you have something completely different.
If someone had come up to you prior to 2006 and said “I’d like people to send a 140 character message and publicize it to the world in an instant via their mobile phones. I’m going to call this 'Twitter' and these messages will be called 'tweets'. Billions of people will use this to communicate and express themselves” you’d probably think, “What are you smoking and why on earth would you call it that?”.
Don’t give up on your ideas. Look at them as a piece of a bigger, greater idea. And remember, if your idea was born out of a personal and genuine need or want, I’m sure there’s someone out there who also feels the same.
What are other ways you use to take your ideas to the next level?
For information on being a designer, read Ram’s internationally industry acclaimed book here: www.getajobasadesigner.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ram is an award winning Senior Designer, Art Director, CreativeLive Instructor and Author from Sydney, Australia. He's also the founder of educational blog; giantthinkers.com which helps design students and graduates be employed. He's since been featured in Communication Arts and HOW magazine. For more on being a designer, read Ram's internationally industry acclaimed book here: www.getajobasadesigner.com After over 10 years experience working for globally renowned agencies such as Ogilvy & Mather, DDB and McCann Worldgroup on clients such as Audi, Qantas, Telstra, CBA, Crown, AMEX and The Louis Vuitton Group, he's able to give back to the industry which has given him avalanches in return.