How to Generate More Good Ideas

Seth Godin

"Someone asked me where I get all my good ideas, explaining that it takes him a month or two to come up with one and I seem to have more than that. I asked him how many bad ideas he has every month. He paused and said, 'None.'"

Seth Godin





Creativity and problem solving

Creativity is about problem-solving. And creativity is also about finding problems to solve in the first place: perceiving them, defining them, explaining them, and recordin...

Diving and swimming

This technique requires 2 steps:

  • Deep immersion into a subject matter without specifically looking for an answer to your problem.
  • Letting go completely while you process that information (actually walking away from it), to allow good ideas to bubble up from the subconscious and into clear view.

This is the ability to reach beyond a specific field of expertise and create new uses for an older thing. It’s about taking one thing and using it for a different purpose than intended.

For example: Apply a cooking recipe to a marketing strategy or use a spreadsheet program to organize words for your poetry.

Creating good ideas
Creating good ideas

It’s tempting to think that all the good ideas must be taken by now and that there is no possible way to make any new positive contribution.

However, the story of every good idea, every new...

The smallest viable breakthrough

Bad ideas are not your enemy. They are essential steps to better ideas.

Focus on making something worth sharing. How small can you make it and still do something you're proud of? Could you play just one note on the clarinet that's worth listening to?

Starting something

There is a community of critics and tweakers and tinkerers that are ready to criticize the logo your agency put together. What is scarce are the people willing to make the logo themselves.

Here is then a clue about what to do next: Go first. After you have done the scary bits, you can easily get help from the people who are good at smoothing out the rough places with their critiques.

Output comes from input

If you want to have a lot of good ideas, you need to expose yourself to good ideas.

This means reading books, having conversations with interesting people, seeking out new experiences,...

Have a capture mechanism

Creative ideas often come to you when you’re not deliberately trying to solve a problem, when your mind is relaxed.

That's why your creative process must include a system to capture ideas when you have them, so you can work on them later. The simplest mechanism is simply to have a list where you keep ideas.

Incubate your ideas

Regularly review your ideas lists. Incubation helps because just as a spontaneous connection can generate an idea, an incubated idea can spontaneously mature into a plan of action if you take care of it.