Putting It Into Practice
No matter what your profession, learning to think more innovatively and
spark new ideas can help you. I have
included some points and inspiration
that have helped me, but the real key
is changing your behavior and taking
action. Here are some practical suggestions for fostering more great ideas.
• Keep a list of your ideas. I like to
use Evernote because it syncs with my
phone and computer, but any media
will do. Just make sure you write things
down so you don’t forget.
• Share your ideas with your friends.
This can be a great way to brainstorm,
as well as to see different perspectives.
• Get better at small talk by asking
more questions. Learn about other occupations and professions. What insights do they have to offer, and what
challenges do they face?
• Each week learn something new.
Carve out time each week to explore a
topic you don’t know much about. Investigate how things work and expand your
knowledge of the world around you.
• Read more. It can be fiction or nonfiction, but just spend time learning.
• Ask more questions. When you don’t
understand something, ask. Or keep a
list of the things you don’t know, and
when you have a spare 15 minutes
spend time looking them up and investigating further.
Following this advice could inspire
you to create more and expand your
knowledge. Remember that all great
ideas typically start from other ideas,
so the first step you need to take is to
I can’t wait to see what you create.
Arrogance in Business Planning
Sink or Swim, Know When It’s Time to Bail
Kate Matsudaira ( katemats.com) is an experienced
technology leader. She has worked at Microsoft and
Amazon and successful startups before starting her own
company, Popforms, which was acquired by Safari Books.
Copyright © 2018 held by owner/author.
Publication rights licensed to ACM. $15.00
wheeling around their suitcases—it is
amazing how poorly designed some
public spaces are, and I always think
there are ample opportunities for innovation and improvement.
Be curious and ask lots of questions.
Many inventions come out of insights
into the way other things work. For example, the Dyson vacuum that uses a
cyclone to clean carpets was inspired by
a visit to a sawmill that uses a cyclone to
whisk away sawdust. When you expose
yourself to a wide variety of things, what
you learn can translate into other areas.
Ideas are sparked from other ideas.
If you are looking for a place to start,
think about everyday objects, for example, indoor plumbing, ballpoint pens,
radio, Wi-Fi, and so on. Do you know
how they really work?
When it comes to your work, don’t
just accept things at face value. Take
the time to really understand what your
compiler is doing, how the operating
system works, and even how the network puts it all together. Spend time
learning and going deep.
This is really about cultivating a
sense of wonder and being curious
about the world around you. When
you meet people in different occupations, ask them lots of questions:
“What are your biggest challenges?” or “What are the most interesting things you have learned in your
work?” You can use every day and
every conversation as a chance to expand your knowledge.
Embrace more of your ideas. I
would be a terrible angel investor. I
tend to have a conservative nature,
and lots of the ideas I would consider
dumb end up being successful (case
in point: the Snuggie). As a result, I
tend to dismiss many of my ideas.
However, great ideas are often grown
and inspired from other ideas.
If you have an idea, try discussing
it with your peers (particularly the
creative ones who get excited and can
help you transform it, rather than the
closed-minded friends who tend to
see only the risks or problems). Brainstorm around it. How would you market the idea? What is its value? How
could you transform it into a truly
great idea? Even if you don’t end up
pursuing it, the exercise can help you
think about things differently and
build on your creative energy.
If you want
to have great ideas,
the first step
is to have
lots of ideas.