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How To Produce The Right Ideas

Oct 12, 2007
The phrase 'thinking up an idea' is a common one. It is certainly fair to say that thinking, to most people, is the chief, if not the only factor that occurs to them when the job of producing an idea presents itself. How then, should one think? Have you ever thought about thinking? Surely a subject on which so much depends, deserves at least a very brief survey of some common pitfalls before we get down to actual idea production.

The highest level of thinking, of course, is performed by the creative thinker. He is the one who works over what enters his head. In creative thinking, prosaic facts, abstract questions, and oddities of information are transformed into fine literature, cures for dreadful diseases, and ideas which may change the way the world goes.

Most people do not even know that when they are confronted with a problem to solve, they have to do certain things in a certain order to solve it. Thinking in some respects resembles cooking. The thinker must follow a formula just as the cook follows a recipe.

There is a regular order in which the ingredients are added and prepared. Proper combinations are made, proper timing is considered. The dinner suffers if instead of soup, a delicious dessert is brought in before the roast. The thinker must produce not the right answer to the wrong question but to the right one.

To produce a specific idea for a definite purpose you must first state your problem in definite terms. All too often the wrong problem is tackled, and as a result, no matter how good the ideas devised to solve it, they are necessarily ineffective.

Before putting a lot of work into the production of an idea, you should decide whether the problem you have definitely stated is worth solving. Getting an idea requires time, effort, and perhaps money as well. If these assets could solve some other problem that would produce greater advantages for the same time, effort and money, the problem you are considering now should be reserved for another time. In other words, it is worthwhile considering not only whether you are working on the right problem, but also whether you are doing it at the most favorable time.

There are other things to safeguard you in your thinking against the faults of being either uninformed or misinformed. In this connection you should realize that there is a certain amount of information necessary to the solution of every idea problem.

You must ask yourself how many of the necessary facts you already possess; how many more are readily available, either in books or through interviews; how much more can be obtained by reasonable effort, and how much is simply not to be had at all through any feasible effort. In addition, you must know not only how much of the needed information you either have or can obtain, but also how dependable and accurate it is and whether it is in a form which you can use.

Such questions have a connection in determining whether a problem should be solved, because the time factor is affected by them. Far too often these simple considerations of finding out whether you have enough information, and whether it is dependable, are completely overlooked.

A little time and effort, and you will always be examining the right problem and exactly in the right way.
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