3 ways to generate good ideas when you don't feel creative

I wrote a post last month about having too many ideas… But sometimes, this problem is flipped on its head. You have a problem that you’re trying to solve, and you just can’t come up with an idea to solve it.

Thankfully, there are ways to help you shake things up and wake up your creativity so you can find more solutions, all the time.

I have found that very often with business owners, it’s easy to always have a new idea, but it’s hard to generate ideas and solutions for problems we already have or to improve the current process, content or product. It’s easy to chase the next shiny object, but truth be told, we all know that there are things we are avoiding in our current business. What we don’t know is that these are things we can creatively solve with a few simple tips.

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Have you heard of Design Thinking? It is a method designers use to come up with ideas and develop solutions. But this method is applicable to all kinds of businesses, and it is a concept I learned about and loved from Creative Confidence. It’s one of my favourite books ever!

Empathising and researching the process

You start by putting yourself in the user’s shoes. Who is experiencing this product, service or content? Can you find out more about them and how they interact with the product, service or content? Do you see any other linked issues that led to the problem arising? Are they other things in play?

By user research and actually experiencing what the process is like for the end-user, you get more information about the actual problem, and not the assumed issues that sometimes blind us from making something better.

Then you can start to pinpoint where the actual problems lie, and what are the other factors that interplay with it.

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Quickfire ideas

I like to call the second part of design thinking the “quickfire process.” As you can see, I’ve made Design Thinking my own, just a little bit.

After you accurately pinpoint the problem and factors at play, you can start thinking of a lot of wild and crazy ways to solve the problem. In the book, they encourage you to think outside the box. Don’t consider whether the solution is realistic or not, such as budget and team constraints, but rather, ideate to come up with the most elegant and fun of solutions. Anything goes!

For me, this is a lot of fun and forces me to break free from my nerd instincts that just want to be practical. Practicality can limit a lot of our creativity. So don’t yet think of the consequences, just focus on coming up with as many ideas as quickly as possible.

Some of the best ideas are crazy ideas

Now, go through the ideas you have. Pick out some of the wildest, most expensive or dreamiest solutions. And then break it down into sections. How can this be done (with no budget or time constraints)?

You might think, this is a crazy waste of time! But it isn’t. Some of the best ideas were crazy to begin with, and sometimes, we limit ourselves before truly finding out the possibility of an idea.

The Mad Hatter: Have I gone mad?
Alice: I'm afraid so. You're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are.

Through this process, you can trigger your imagination and creativity, and perhaps find solutions that you never thought were possible before! In fact, if you wanted to, you can go one step further and find the cheapest ways to prototype the idea you came up with. It doesn’t have to be a working prototype, following the Design Thinking method, you can refine this as you go, you just have to see step by step how feasible it is to make these ideas happen.


So tell me:

Are you having a creative block? Did you try this exercise? I wanna know the scoop!