How to grow your worst idea into a Great Idea

5 questions to challenge your thinking

The key to developing an idea into a Great Idea is to mix around the source elements. You need to re-arrange existing ingredients or perhaps add new ones: the ingredients themselves may be unremarkable, what makes for success is the mix.

Whatever you have on the drawing board, take your initial thoughts and re-arrange them, emphasise different features or combine totally different elements; choose whatever method best fits how you think, whether it be drawing arrows on a flip-chart or physically moving scraps of paper on a table. A new arrangement of ideas may throw up an entirely new concept: for instance, the idea for the roll-on deodorant came to Helen Barnett Diserens through adapting something entirely different, the ballpoint pen.

Adaptation is a process that involves moving and transforming – you don’t have to physically move anything (unless you find that helps…) but you’ll see ideas transported from one corner of your head to another. These techniques are especially valuable if you’re searching for a business idea.

Great-ideaImage credit: Original Bliss

Challenge yourself with these key questions to make your idea evolve

  1. Change the format – in terms of blogging this means switching between formats such as downloads and blog posts to see how benefits change for the customer. In a broader arena what differences would there be in offering the idea offline, creating an app, offering the idea as a franchise for others to implement?
  2. Change the hook – in the realm of blogging this often means changing the title. In other areas this may mean putting a different spin on a product, emphasising a lesser-used feature such as re-marketing a to-do list-maker as a digital shopping list.
  3. Change the frequency of delivery – does your idea work best as a one-off piece of content or through a regular delivery, and if regular should it be daily or weekly?
  4. Change the question you’ve found a solution for – brainstorming may have given you a list of broad categories for the ideas you’ve been considering; go back to that list and apply your solution to a different category of problem, e.g. if your answer to increasing sales is through more engagement on social media consider if social media can be used for another purpose such as sourcing testimonials.
  5. Change your target – consider how a different audience could make use of your idea, e.g. does your idea have a different appeal to women than to men, does an older generation have a different use for it?

In the words of Michael Eisner, a former CEO of Disney: ‘There’s no good idea that can’t be improved on’. So ask the questions to make your idea great. Don’t settle for ‘good enough’, as brilliant could be just around the corner. Here are some more of my favourite quotes designed to refresh your ideas. They’re Tweetable and Pinnable too for easy sharing.

Combine and juxtapose your source material to see what fresh twists are thrown up. You may be surprised what comes to light simply by rearranging the ideas that you already have.

Don’t be afraid to draw arrows and scribble on what you’ve come up with so far; this is working material whose purpose is to make new connections.

Ask yourself the key questions to extend the scope of the idea; each one has the potential for shining an entirely different light. Good luck with your enquiries!

Can you come up with any examples of adaptations
that have worked for you?
Use the comments to let me know.

5 key questions to grow an idea into a Great Idea
5 key questions to grow an idea into a Great Idea
Grow your idea by re-combining and juxtaposing ideas that you already have. Mix it up and challenge your thinking by asking 5 key questions.