How do you generate good ideas?

An important part of a Product Manager’s job is to provide a compelling vision of the future, and to inspire the team to rally and work towards making the vision a reality. A PM without a vision is really just a project administrator.

I was given this piece of advice not too long ago. I am trying to decipher how to break this down into concrete actions in my day to day life.

How does one develop a vision, let alone inspire others on it?

I think that a good first step is to generate and share a lot of good ideas. The act of thinking about interesting problems to solve (that may not be specific to something one is working on right now) will open the mind to new possibilities.

There are 2 big challenges (opportunities?) that I’m working on, to get better at this —

  1. To stop quelling ideas in the mind because they aren’t “fully-formed”.

Often, I don’t speak my thoughts out loud because I think my opinion needs more thought. However, this also limits the amount of ideas I can generate because I invariably don’t revisit those ideas later in the day to flesh them out, and then they get lost.

While I don’t want to let lose all my brain-puke on the world, I do want to open up more and share less than perfect ideas with the world for feedback. And hopefully, with experience, more of these ideas have less BS and more substance.

Writing also helps bring a lot of clarity to ideas from floaty clouds in the mind to concrete trains of thought. The act of synthesis — of taking what I’ve read/ thought about and re-phrasing it is the only way I’ve truly learnt something. I’d like to spend as much time writing out ideas as generating them.

2. Having an “active mind” where the default is to listen and question, rather than accept.

Curiosity is a skill and I think it gets developed as we expose our minds to new things. It’s been a while since I learnt a skill that I did not have the foggiest idea about. Time to change that…

I also think that the famous Yes, And… rule in Improv is especially relevant in having an active, listening mind.

If you have thoughts on how to generate good ideas, please do leave a comment :)

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