As Many Ideas As Possible

Get inspired by the Theory Of Evolution

To optimize an ideation process why not drawing inspiration from the Theory of Darwinian Evolution that teaches us to create as many variations as possible. In Nature, from genes to ecosystems, the variability is found at all levels. This is how biodiversity happens. Everything is constantly renewed: genes, anatomy, physiology, locomotion patterns, diets... Living beings build and rebuild constantly. Nothing is fixed. Everything evolves simultaneously. The history of Nature —and human evolution— is the result of a succession of innovations. More variation means more diversity, opportunity and creativity. 

Drawing: Pierre Guité. As Many Ideas As Possible by Sylvie Gendreau, Pocket Lab,

Drawing: Pierre Guité. As Many Ideas As Possible by Sylvie Gendreau, Pocket Lab,

We were born to have many ideas. Creativity is not the privilege of a few, it is in everyone. All we need is to create a favorable environment for its development, an atmosphere of trust where everyone can speak freely without fearing to be judged.

Any project, whatever it is, should start with an inspirational phase to see far and wide, followed by ideation phases to create a maximum of variations. At this stage, we never have too many ideas. It is important not to limit ourself. Take the example of biodiversity and dare all forms of ideas, the most serious to the most absurd. If we focus too quickly on a main idea, we can miss out the very innovative ones. It is rather rare that the best idea appears first. If, in a process of brainstorming sessions, an idea comes too quickly, there is a good chance that it is not very original. This is the perfect time to play the game of the five 'why'. Imagine all shapes, all color, all combinations, and when you think you have exhausted all, it is often when you feel the emptiness in your mind, that the best idea emerges.

We must also be careful not to dismiss too quickly the secondary ideas. How many researchers or designers saw an inkling unexpectedly became the idea that changed their lives. The story told by Benjamin De Leener is a good illustration of this. If the taxidermist Birdseye had never lived with the Inuit, he would not have invented freezing foods and then succeeded so well.1  

Methods aside, do not let yourself imprisoned by always repeating the same thing, the same recipe. Varying methods of generating ideas is also a way of creating variaton. The traditional brainstorming does not always produce the expected results. Introverts rarely feel at ease even if they are very creative when they're alone. Most of the time, silent brainstorming sessions are more effective. Circulating post-its on which each writes a new idea and the other members build on each other ideas helps to generate more ideas. 

Imagine a thousand stories is also an efficient way to generate ideas. Remember the great book of Alan Lightman: Einstein's Dreamswho has inspired so many artists, scientists and writers.2

Drawing: Pierre Guité. As Many Ideas As Possible by Sylvie Gendreau, Pocket Lab,

Drawing: Pierre Guité. As Many Ideas As Possible by Sylvie Gendreau, Pocket Lab,

Biomimicry is also another way to observe Nature for finding ideas to fix problems. Leonardo da Vinci excelled in this area.3 No matter how you do it. The most important is not the method, but the state of mind of the players. What's really key, it's to give permission to express whatever comes into your head. The habit of generating many ideas should be cultivated as a natural and spontaneous process.

Creative minds do not need brainstorming sessions to get ideas, they have them all the time. As soon as they re-focus, connect with Nature or with others... as soon as they walk somewhere... ideas fuse. Word games are often an accelerator. The other great advantage to generate many ideas by asking many questions is to exercise our brain to always have new ideas. A creative mind stays agile. A brain, well oxygenated, can only have many ideas. Our brain is built to generate new hypothesis. Make it work! The more there are connections in our brain, the more it is stimulated. How many new ideas will you have this week?

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