My creativity thinking is a melange of many different influences. The kernel of my approach comes from Charles Thompson's great book, What a Great Idea!: The Key Steps Creative People Take
Get ready. Get all of the information you need in your brain and on paper. Define the thing you're trying to be creative about. Give it a 'problem statement'. Be as specific as possible, so that you can get as much information as you need.
In this mode, you're thinking critically and analytically.
In fire mode, you switch off your critical and analytical thinking and go into freeflow mode. It's like you're a gun shooting haphazardly into the night, not caring where the bullets land. All you care about is the numer of bullets.
When I'm brainstorming, I like to get at least one hundred raw ideas down while I'm in 'fire' mode. And I don't care about the quality of those ideas. I just want loads of them as raw material for the next phase.
It's important in 'fire' mode to have fun. Loads of it. Smile a lot. Drink loads of water. Move around the room. I put brown paper on my walls, and scribble on the paper with fat marker pens.
In 'aim' mode, you go back to your critical, analytical thinking, while retaining a little of the freeflow of 'fire' mode.
Your goal here is to look at all the raw material you've produced in 'fire', and narrow things down.
You change the ideas, moulding them to your purposes.
And your purpose is for your ideas to fit the 'problem statement' you created in the beginning, when you were getting 'ready'.
I use a tool called SCAMPER
, an acronym that nudges things into new patterns.
A friend's father once told me, 'There are many ideas in the world, but only a few opportunities.' His thesis was that if you don't act on ideas, they remain mere ideas.
For an idea to become an opportunity, you have to do two things. You have to recognise an idea as an opportunity. And then you have to act on it.
Taking action takes work. I like to create an action statement containing 3 or 4 goals (more becomes difficult to work with). And these goals all follow the 'SMART
' acronym. They're Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based.