Product professionals will tell you they like generating “new ideas” – executives will tell you they need products that sell. End goal: think creatively and identify salable, profitable new products or services, right?
I’ve come across several articles on innovation, releasing a cascade of ideas. Here’s one from Betty Edwards, art instructor and author. She knows something rich about how we arrive at creative thinking. Betty says creativity happens in stages as we intentionally move back and forth between the two sides of our brain. It doesn’t matter if we naturally favor the right or left hemisphere; what matters is optimally using both. We can learn to do this consciously.
She found that at certain points in the creative process, we must suppress our left brain activities (verbal/analytic) in favor of the right (visual/perceptual). The goal-oriented left hemisphere may impede our ability to see the gestalt (whole picture), thus stifling our creativity.
Betty’s stages do not map 100% to innovation or new product development processes, nor should they. They offer a general guide or road map, an interesting key to the creative process.
Stage 1: define the problem – this is left side thinking. Immerse yourself in what is already known, create lists, sort; prioritize, evaluate. SATURATE
Stage 2: walk away, back-burner your ideas, get away – this is “mulling” a right side activity. INCUBATE
This “noodling” activity leads to the OMG/eureka moment, or Stage 3 – rarely a planned right side activity. When it happens to me (typically on a walk) I use my phone to text myself, or I lose these thought-threads. ILLUMINATE
This returns us to left thinking and Stage 4: Test, validate, evaluate, use scoring models. Does the idea survive the brutal light of market need? No problem, not every idea is a good one. VALIDATE
Your right brain observes. Don’t switch to the left too early. Testing for validity (left brain activity) happens at the end of the creative process and not during ideation.