The Beauty Of The Unexpected Solution

Great ideas come from unlikely places. Be alert and present.

‘Great ideas can come from the most unlikely places at the most unlikely of times.’

Randy Fisher • DeveloperTown

Great ideas come from moments of inspiration, but you can never predict when inspiration will strike. This is why some ideas come seemingly easy, and others seem to take blood, sweat and a ton of trial and error. The only way to ensure you’re able to create the conditions to generate great ideas is to be present and alert to inspiration, no matter how unlikely.

Even in the moments when you’re not ‘working’, you can still be receptive to great ideas. This doesn’t mean you’re consciously trying to solve a problem or ideate in your free time, it just means that you’re mainly allowing your subconscious to work on your behalf. Your brain acknowledges retrospectively when you’ve had a lightbulb moment. You have to train your mind to be aware of these moments because it can happen anywhere; waking up, taking a shower, driving, going for a walk.

‘The beauty of design lies in the unexpected solution which emerges from nowhere.’

Christian Beck • Innovatemap Current

The greatest solutions can be unexpected because they’re not a typical solution from a typical source. It would seem smart to look in the places you would commonly find them, and your experience dictates this. However, not knowing what you’re doing or where you’re going has its advantages. This applies to any creative field—knowing more may result in easier problem-solving, but doesn’t mean original ideation or thinking outside the box. Therefore, you’re more likely to stumble on the unexpected solutions with just pure dumb curiosity than with your current understanding.

The best solutions can also be unexpected when they provide an elegant and obvious direction. In hindsight an idea might seem obvious and make perfect sense, but during the creative process it wasn’t—until you thought of it. This is why you sometimes have to accept that instead of dismissing obvious as unoriginal or lazy, it can be the best solution that most will ignore for that very reason. And if it’s the obvious spin on your crazy idea, it might be the greatest, most obvious idea that nobody ever thought of.

‘That first bit of inspired improvisation is priceless. It’s where a lot of the best stuff comes from.’

Chloe Kaul • The Great Discontent

The first spark of an idea is invaluable because once you recognize the potential impact, you can become confident in the follow-through and execution in the creative process. The initial glint is important to remember and make note of because if you overthink and overwork an idea you’re likely to kill it. The more time you spend on an idea doesn’t necessarily mean it will get better. In fact, it’s more likely to get worse.

This is common in all circles of creativity—whether it’s in music, writing, art or design. There’s a threshold of effort and iteration to maximizing the potential of an initial idea without compromising it. Sometimes you can be too zoned in to take a step back and admit that you’re slowly killing an idea. It pays to save all rounds of iterations of your work so you’re able to go back to your best option, regardless of how much time you spent on it.