Generating ideas: Guest Blog Leapfrogging the Mind

Reuben Steains, Fundraising Innovations Manager at Amnesty International shares his thoughts on how to release your creative potential.

Many people don’t consider themselves as creative. But as human beings we are inherently creative, within us all is a cosmic amount of creative potential. We just need a way of unbolting it.  Read on to find out how.

The brain’s default setting actively inhibits the ability to think creatively…”That’s not very helpful”,  I hear you say.

The brain is hard-wired to use an automatic and subconscious classification system based on past experiences. That means that when we’re presented with a problem or new information we often relate back to past experiences to understand what is before us. So we’re experiencing the new through a lens of the old.

This system is highly effective and allows us to process vast amounts of information very quickly. But it also keeps us locked into current and past realities.

There is hope.

We need to leapfrog the mind’s conditioned way of thinking by using stimulus that distract the brain from its current rules. Hundreds of methods have been devised to help people stimulate different thinking and there plenty of easy things you can do to help improve the quality and quantity of ideas generated:

Top tips to be more creative

1.      Expose yourself!

More often than not, a new idea is a connection of more than one existing ideas/concepts. The more experiences/perspectives we have to tap into, the greater chance we have of making a connection. So expose yourself to new life experiences. Go to a dance class. Learn a language. Start a new hobby. Play a musical instrument. Go see some art/music/theatre.

2.      Disrupt the convention

Train your mind to break old habit patterns so that thinking differently becomes normal. Brush your teeth with the other hand. Take a different route to work every day for a week. Hot desk. Read a different paper.

3.       Play

The most creative people you’ll ever meet are children. Learn from them.

4.       Cross Pollination

Involve a broad and diverse range of people in your problem solving. Invite staff from different departments and external people to your idea sessions.

5.       Stop telling yourself you’re not creative

If you tell yourself not to come up with ideas, then you probably won’t – no matter how hard you try.

6.       Spend time with people outside your demographic

Kids are the best. Different generations have different perspectives.

7.       Experiment randomly

Do something. If it doesn’t work, do something else. No idea is too crazy.

8.       Be brave

New ideas can often seem absurd. But if you feel there’s something in it then stick with it. All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning.

9.       Signal

Invariably if we ask others what they think of a new idea we get criticism as a response. Let others know when you want them to build on your idea or to critically analyse it.

10.    Get real

When you have a new idea, do like Blue Peter and make it real. Draw your idea or mock it up to help communicate it to others.

Reuben Steains explains how new fundraising ideas are generated at Amnesty International

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