I was thrilled to hear Bill Buxton of Microsoft talking about ideas and innovation on NPR’s morning show, The Take Away. It reinforced my own experience with ideas, creativity and problem solving. And it reminds me of a phrase I use during my own keynote presentations, “Date, but don’t marry your ideas.” In the NPR interview, Bill Buxton talks about ideas, lots of them – how we tend to get attached to one idea and pursue it even when it might not be the best idea. Part of the creative process is coming up with lots of ideas, turning them over, sharing them, discarding them and coming up with more ideas.
As a professional songwriter I’m used to trying out new ideas almost every day. I’ve learned that some ideas turn out to be terrific and grow into real things, like hit songs! I’ve also learned some ideas are not so great, and it’s best to get rid of them and move on to the next brainstorming session. Thus my advice to date but don’t marry your ideas. People who don’t often engage in creative pursuits come up with one idea and they fall in love with it; simply because it’s an idea, it’s exciting and it’s theirs. My advice is practice, practice, practice. The more ideas you come up with, the easier it will be to move away from the mediocre ones and identify the ones with true potential.
Ideas are Vital to Problem Solving
If you have a problem, that indicates you don’t yet have a solution. If you had a solution, you wouldn’t have a problem anymore, or you’d be well on your way to fixing it. So you can view creativity, or idea creation, through the lens of simple problem solving. You need to come up with something new – an idea to solve a problem. You need to be creative and you can be. Don’t overwhelm yourself by thinking you have to paint the next Mona Lisa or write the next great song. It’s exciting and valid to use creativity just to solve an ordinary every day problem. And when you do that, celebrate your creativity. Now that’s an idea we can all get behind.