6 Ways to Find the “Big Idea” that Propels Your Product or Service to Startling Success

6 Ways to Find the “Big Idea” that Propels Your Product or Service to Startling Success

Reader Comments (34)

  1. As a creative thinkers we tend to compensate for the “Big Idea” with many little ones, but the “Big One” is what’s ultimately going to make an impact on the world. Your 6 tips are in line with (although presented differently) what I recently read in John C. Maxwell’s “How Successful People Think”.

    Awesome post Beth! Thanks for the actionable advice!

  2. Great post, Beth, thanks for sharing these ideas. I’ve done some level of all of them at one time or another, but it’s great having them all rounded up into one actionable list.

    So often when we are trying to come up with the next big thing we want to launch or create, we try to force ourselves into it (I’ve been guilty of this more times than I want to admit!), which just exacerbates the problem. Something I’ve been doing alot lately is just sitting still after I do my morning meditation while focusing on whatever the thing is I’m trying to figure out in that day or week. Lately it’s been what minimum viable product I want to create. The meditation/focus really helps, as does getting out in nature, having lunch with a friend, hanging out in the bookstore, or getting exercise, etc.

    Love your Incubation idea — I’m thinking building a consistent incubation practice into my week — one that actually gets writtendown in the day planner — would be an excellent idea, thanks for the inspiration!

    • Hi Kimberly – I agree, I try to “force” myself into good ideas, too. Never works. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think sometimes that if I just sit and stare at my notes for long enough, something will come to me, but more often than not, it’s when I step away from it that I get that flash of insight. And yes – building incubation times into your schedule is a great idea!

      • I like the term incubation period… and it’s really true that your mind works better after taking some time off from work. Most people force themselves to think but that is not really a good idea after all. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Love your example of The Man in the Hathaway Shirt/Most Interesting Man in the World. I was in the shower a few weeks ago and got an idea for a parody called “The Most Interesting Entrepreneur in the World.” (see YouTube for the video)…my point isn’t that the parody was a big idea (at least not yet), but that I got the idea in the shower. For some reason, doing something physical — even if it’s not strenuous, like showering — helps our brains “rest” so that the subconscious can take over. I get most of my best ideas while in the shower or doing dishes. (Stay clean, my friends.)

    • Tea – “Stay clean,” indeed! Keep yourself and your house clean while gaining insight at the same time. What could be better? ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Traveling helps me with fresh outlooks and big ideas. Heading off to Australia in a few weeks (my first time) and I just know I’m going to get some big ideas from that trip. But even heading off to a different part of town for a lunch and walk a few times a month is great too. Add an interesting friend or colleague into the mix, and you never know what can happen.

  5. Great piece,

    Thank you for pointing out the famous Hathaway guy in comparison to the Dos Equis guy. I never put two and two together on that one.

    The only thing that I would add would be to look for successes in OTHER industries and try to incorporate them into your own.

    -Joshua Black

  6. Some of these tips are just plain good for a healthy lifestyle and healthy mental state, regardless of finding a big idea. I think overall happiness will help you think better, yes? And these tips really are about being happy.

    • There’s definitely a tight relationship between creativity and happiness. I wouldn’t say there’s a complete overlap, but taking care of your creative mind does seem to spill over into satisfaction more generally.

    • I agree with you for the most part, except perhaps the point about mixing up your teams and doing conceptual blending. I think sometimes bringing in new blood like that can actually be a little uncomfortable at first, because we might be used to working with people who are our friends or close colleagues….pulling in someone new can throw us off our game a little bit. But I think it’s better in the long run!

  7. It seems people often overlook one and three. The “thinking” part is deemed easy and the “moving” piece is considered playing. But, often thinking is the most difficult and moving is when those thoughts come together. Beyond working out, I often find showers are a really good place to think. Most of my best ideas have come while getting clean. Driving is another good change of scenery, thought provoking activity. I like to drive with a dictaphone or use Siri to capture my thoughts.

  8. I loved this post. A good reminder to consciously do the things that will bring creative ideas. All of the comments about the ideas in the shower – so true! A friend of mine keeps a dry erase marker in his shower, in case he gets a brilliant idea or wants to sketch out a concept. I guess with the driving and showering, everything else that blocks the flow of ideas is tuned out, so that’s when the a-ha moment happens.
    I was stuck in a creative rut the other day and went outside to throw a tennis ball to my energetic puppy. Had a new outlook in 10 minutes. It works!

  9. On #4 and 5 — On one hand, you want to get moving on an idea, but on the other, you don’t want to rush things too quickly. I do think that striking a balance between “not rushing” and applying pressure can be tricky, but once you achieve it, you’re IN. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. You are absolutely right about travel being a spark for creativity. A few years ago I had an internship with an environmental organization in Hawaii. I spent three months in the mountains of Kauai, hiking through the forest every day and exploring the mountains. To this day, those were the 3 most creative months of my life. Even now, 4 years later, I have ideas from that summer that I haven’t gotten around to. Getting out and experiencing activities and cultures you don’t normally see gets you in touch with problems faced by other people. And as we all know, where there is a problem, there is an opportunity.

    Great post.

  11. Amazing insight. I usually get the best ideas when I am running or working out. I usually have my iPhone or iPad nearby and quickly jot them down and Evernote and continue to stew over them as I work out.

  12. This is a very nice list! It kinda gave me permission to take a break from work to get the creativity juice flowing. I just came back from the boxing gym and I’m ready to go again ๐Ÿ™‚

    It also made me go back to a classic , The man in the hathaway shirt and to the most interesting man in the world. Man…now I REALLY feel like having a Dos Equis!

    • Antoine – I think the Hathaway shirt guy and The Most Interesting Man in the World also influenced the Old Spice guy – and I love all three of them! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. To get my creative juice flowing I do two things mainly, I study and then I relax. To elaborate further I basically study all the materials I can find on the subject I’m working on and then I give myself a few days to just relax and allow my mind to put the pieces together without forcing my mind to come up with an answer within a set time. It has worked well for me over the years, but you can always make improvements and I see a lot of good points you make about finding the ‘Big Idea’. I’ll definitely try out your tips to try to see if I can find a better way to work on my projects. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Excellent post Beth! and I agree with you some time when you doing outing from outside your home town gets lots new ideas and that could be the big idea that you are looking for. I think creativity depends how passionate you are about what you are going to create and that’s how the best comes out of you.

    Thanks for sharing great information ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Awesome post.

    It’s something that seems so simple, and comes fairly naturally if you’re in advertising. But so many people let their own brand get left behind, I certainly did for a while.

    It took me a long time to find my ‘big idea’ but it’s been so important to giving my business more direction.

  16. Great article, Beth! Thanks for mentioning my work and thoughts on the topic.

    I’ve been playing with the idea of a correlation to our physical health and our creative health. We know that exercise gives us the space to come up with new connections and ideas. But what if the level of our health is directly correlative to the extent that we’re able to not only have the ideas, but to execute on them?

    On another note, I think that your point about exhaustive research poses one of the biggest challenges to our fresh insights. Maybe it’s just me, but when I spend a lot, or too much time looking at what others are doing, it doesn’t add to my creativity, it drains it.

    I have a sense of when I’ve consumed enough of others’ work and when it’s time to stop and let my own ideas surface. I just fear that too many of us spend so much time researching and don’t then turn to our own creative well.

    SO much to say on this topic; thanks for writing about it and including me!

    • I agree, Cynthia – and research overload is something I personally really have to be careful of. There’s a Copyblogger post coming out next week about the Jonah Lehrer issue, and while I was writing it I was researching journalists who plagiarized, lied, etc. and before I knew it, two hours had gone by.

      I think many bloggers are very curious people by nature, but you are absolutely correct – we gotta be able to turn off the computer or put away the books and create our own work, instead of just consuming, consuming, consuming. Thanks again for your great thoughts on this issue!

  17. Wonderful tips! Actually, I live by taking things one at a time. If you pressure yourself too much, you’ll end up doing a lot of changes later on. It’s best to take your time in understanding every aspect of your endeavor since it will make way for more ideas and strategies. We all get to the point that we’re run out of things to do but it’s also good to take a peek on what the others are doing. If you look for ideas for a marketing strategy, do you have companies you check on?

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