The best ideas come to those who wait

The best ideas come to those who wait

Many of us think that our creativity comes from our first ideas. We assume that finding creative solutions slow down over time.

This assumption is wrong, research suggests. The best ideas come to those who wait. Patience and perseverance will lead to more innovative solutions.

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Problem Solving


For any problem, the more apparent solutions will be discovered first, perhaps because you have encountered it previously. Generating the initial ideas feels very rewarding. Further ideas will come slower and require much more effort. This gives the impression that your creativity is about to drop off a cliff.

In reality, you may have fewer ideas, but those ideas may increase in quality. If you can work through the frustration, you may find a truly innovative idea.

A simple rule of thumb is that if you want three good ideas, you should probably generate 20.

Implications for the 3:20 rule:

  • Managers and leaders can gauge the team's general beliefs about brainstorming. They can correct the illusion that creativity drops after a certain amount of time.
  • They can budget much more time and resources for the idea generation process.

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The River Of Creativity

Most people do not realize that being persistent is a virtue in a creative process.

A person’s first ideas are rarely their most creative ones, as one generally goes through a lengthy brainstorming process, and has to list out and shaft through a large number of nominations.

It encourages people to come up with thoughts and ideas that can, at first, seem a bit crazy. Some of these ideas can be crafted into original, creative solutions to a problem, while others can spark even more ideas. 

This helps to get people unstuck by "jolting" them out of their normal ways of thinking.

Research suggests placing self-imposed limitations can boost creativity. 

It forces your brain to come up with creative solutions to finish a project around the parameters you’ve set.

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