🤔 Have you ever wondered how to increase your chances of coming up with great ideas? For many people, including myself, good ideas often emerge while in the shower. If you’re curious about how to enhance your idea generation, consider reading James Webb Young’s book, “A Technique for Producing Ideas.

In this concise book, first published in 1940 and still popular today, Young reveals five steps to produce ideas and clarifies two common misconceptions about generating ideas.


🚫 Idea Myth #1:

You need to create entirely new ideas. In reality, you generate ideas by combining existing ones and identifying patterns. The challenge lies in determining which connections to make.


🚫 Idea Myth #2:

Ideas are generated in a vacuum and inspiration randomly strikes. Contrarily, great ideas often result from deliberate practice and a fascination with possibilities.


📝 Young presents a systematic five-step approach to train your mind to generate more ideas:


📚 Step 1: Gather Specific and General Materials

To generate great ideas, systematically collect information as raw materials. You’ll need to gather two types of materials: specific and general.


Specific materials pertain to the problem you’re trying to solve. Examine them deeply and from different perspectives to discover unique aspects. In addition, gather a wide range of general materials through lifelong learning, which broadens your knowledge base.


Title cover for the book, David Epstein, in his book “Range,” also emphasizes the importance of diverse general knowledge. Expert Arturo Casadevall advises reading something outside your field every day to expand your horizons and potentially spark insights within your area of expertise.


🧠 Step 2: Masticate the Materials

Digest the gathered materials by closely examining them and experimenting with various combinations. Write down any observations, no matter how trivial. Young encourages pushing your thinking until your mind is completely exhausted.


💆‍♂️ Step 3: Forget About It

Take a break and let your mind relax. Engage in unrelated activities, allowing your brain to process the information unconsciously. Barbara Oakley refers to this as “the Diffuse Mode.”


💡Step 4: The “Aha” Moment

Suddenly, an idea will emerge, often when your mind is relaxed, such as during a shower or walk.


🌍 Step 5: Bring Ideas to the World

Take action on the idea and refine it based on real-world applications. Share the idea with others to gain feedback and enhance it further.


🔁 In summary, follow these five steps to generate great ideas:

1️⃣ Gather specific and general materials.

2️⃣ Masticate the materials.

3️⃣ Forget about it.

4️⃣ Experience the “aha” moment.

5️⃣ Bring ideas to the world.

By systematically following these steps, you may generate more ideas and become an idea-generating machine!