#266: Give Me 20

One of my favorite things is to tackle big challenges.

Don’t get me wrong: I’d rather have things be easier than harder, given the choice.

But there’s nothing like a big, complex challenge to get the creativity juices flowing.

My typical mode of tackling these challenges is to gather information and opinions—and then brainstorm solutions.

I have a few different brainstorming techniques that I use.

And one is perfect for this kind of thing.

In today’s podcast episode, I’ll walk you through my process for brainstorming solutions to big, complex problems.

My process may sound super simple. Maybe too simple.

But I’m constantly surprised at how effective it is.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smartphone, tablet or iPod.

Here’s how my brainstorming process typically unfolds:

The first five to 10 ideas flow onto the page very quickly. These are the obvious solutions.

Ideas 11 to 15 take a bit more thinking.

By the time I get to 15, I almost always feel like I’ve run out of ideas.

But I HAVE to get to 20. So I push myself.

Often, I’ll leave my office and go outside with my notebook. Or I’ll go out for a walk or to a coffee shop.

Little by little, a few new ideas emerge.

And eventually, I make it to 20.

Here’s what I’ve noticed:

Ideas one to 10 are good.

Ideas 11 to 15 are very good.

The best ideas are almost always in the 16 to 20 group.

I’m not sure why that is. My hunch is that those ideas are the product of my subconscious mind, which needs time to do its thing.

So when you’re brainstorming, stretch yourself to go beyond your first 10 ideas.

Because most big, complex challenges require truly creative solutions.

And it might take a bit of coaxing to draw them out.



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