How to turn sparks of insight into full-fledged concepts

Stephen Moore
Aug 6, 2018 · 4 min read
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

It’s hard to look at your idea or concept objectively.

And no wonder. I mean, you came up with it after all! It’s your baby. You had that lightbulb moment, and you’re not giving it up without a fight!

The problem is, your idea might suck.

Or at least, it needs some serious refinement.

You just can’t see it through your pride, and that’s OK.

Here are two methods you can apply to turn your original idea into an ass-kicking concept ready to take over the world.

1. The 100 Ideas Method

Buy yourself a notebook of some kind. I won’t pretend that the size, number of lines, or thickness of paper matter one bit.

Use whatever your preference is and find yourself a pen or pencil.

Open the notebook, and write down the number one. Sketch out the concept or idea you currently have. This is your starting point.

A view from one of my sketchbooks

Now, the fun begins.

Turn the page and flesh out idea one until it becomes idea two. Flesh out idea two until it becomes three.

Highlight one area of the third idea. ‘Zoom in’ to the finer details. Expand these a couple of times to form ideas four, five, and six. Expand those finer details to become ideas seven to ten. You get the picture.

The point of this method is to push the boundaries of your original idea. No idea is too ‘wacky’ or ‘weird.’ No idea is wrong.

This is a safe space to go wild.

By idea 30, it probably seems pointless. You were happy with concept 17 and have not managed to muster up anything better since.

And that is another point of this exercise. Exhausting all possibilities. If there really is nothing better after 17, then bingo, 17 is your idea.

But who is to say that idea 83, or 91, won’t completely change your concept?

No matter how many days/weeks it may take, get to the magic 100. Come back to it and reflect on it, and choose five to ten final concepts.

Turn this five to ten into two to three.

With these two to three, you can either repeat the development process (not necessarily 100 though). Or, you can take the best features of each and put them together.

Somewhere in here lies your new, upgraded idea or concept.

2. The Six Thinking Hats Method

This method will help you look at your concept through different mindsets.

Although designed to make meetings more productive, it can be used to critique your idea. These various angles and approaches will expose the areas that need to be reworked or redeveloped.

The Six Thinking Hats are as follows:

  • The White Hat only looks for the facts and data. Many use this hat near the start to set out the relevant information before the discussion begins.
  • Next, go more positive with the Yellow Hat. Look at your idea and find the benefits and value it brings. Look for the good and the positive here. What is great about your idea?
  • The Red Hat is the emotional one. Look at the idea and note your gut reaction. What would a user’s reaction be if they had no understanding of the concept?
  • The Green Hat is when the brain juices get unleashed. This is the creative hat. What solutions can you come up with for the issues that have arisen? It’s time to generate some new directions and new ideas.
  • The Black Hat goes for the negative. Try to find out why it won’t work. Where are the flaws and problems? Finding these issues allows you to counter them, remove them, and develop a stronger concept. Try to avoid bringing this hat in too early, as it will only serve to shoot down ideas and opinions.
  • Finally, the Blue Hat brings the control and structure to the critique. Here you set new objectives, outline the new situations, and define the new problems to be tackled.

As these hats are perspectives, and therefore not people or personalities, it allows you and anyone else participating to be honest.

They allow you to look at your concept through various viewpoints and give it a fair and honest assessment. This will lead to real, valuable points and improvements.

You can read more in Edward de Bonos’ book, “Six Thinking Hats.”

As ever with idea generation and development, be creative and bold, but always retain a sense of honesty and realism.

Use the two methods to turn your idea into something that could change your life, or even the lives of others.

Better Marketing

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Stephen Moore

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Founder, maker & general creative. Get My Free 23 Page PDF Guide — ‘The Startup Checklist’ here 👉

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