Ideation: How to Come Up With a Killer Business Idea

Make sure to read this entire assignment. (Hey! It sure beats reading a textbook chapter.) There are two parts to the homework for tomorrow. -- You don't want to miss either of them. It will probably take you about two hours to complete this assignment. -- You won't need to meet with your group to accomplish the assignment.



Many of us have allowed ourselves to believe that creativity is reserved primarily for those that live in the realm of the arts. Business is about numbers, analysis and optimization, we tell ourselves. Maybe those marketing people and those advertising people and those graphic designers use some kind of creativity, but the rest of us don't really need it to get our jobs done. As a matter of fact, we would do well to avoid it. It might cause us to waste time or make bad business decisions.


Yet how do we square that with the fact that the world's most successful businesses are fueled by creativity. Not necessarily visual or musical creativity, but creativity none the less. Creativity is much more than drawing, painting or playing an instrument well. In this context, to say we are creative simply means that we create. Maybe that is a better way to describe this kind of creativity so that it doesn't carry the odor of frivolity or nonsense that sometimes comes with the word. We create. We (you, I, each of us) make something from nothing. Or, maybe more accurately, we gather something coherent out of the chaos of unlimited options. That can be accomplished in finance, purchasing, real estate, operations, marketing, or even accounting (well, maybe not accounting - you can go to jail for being creative in that department).


We were all born creative geniuses. All of us. The first step in accessing the creative genius that exists in each of us, is to dig it out from under the layers and layers of garbage that have been thrown on it since we entered Kindergarten. Remember how creative you were before you started school and people started telling you what was right and what was wrong? Can you remember how much you created? Can you remember the imagination that you had access to then? The amazing things you imagined. Take a minute and just remember a few of the things that you imagined...go ahead...take a minute to remember....(no, don't keep reading! Take a minute to remember!) is still in there. You can still access that part of your mind that creates things that do not exist outside your brain. This is an extremely important skill to re-develop. Did you know that Einstein solved his most challenging problems by imagining creative scenarios in his mind long before he started any kind of equation? He would spend countless hours just imagining being in free-falling elevators, or a rocket ship, or riding bare-back on a beam of light. It is no surprise that he would make statements such as "The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination" and "I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." That from an individual we associate with the highest attainment of quantitative ability.


Excavating the creative portion of your mind out from under its 12 feet of garbage, that started when your 2nd grade teacher told you in front of the whole class that no one has orange skin like in your drawing and was completed last week when that person you were dating laughed at your singing at devotional, can take some effort. But it can be done and needs to be done.


And we're going to do it together.


Your first assignment for tonight is to watch the following video, a TED video by David Kelly called "How to Build Your Creative Confidence".