How to make the most of your ideas

An ‘ideas backlog’ and other methods to manage your ideas

A stream of ideas is the energy of innovation; ideas inspire people, teams, companies. Great ideas can come at any moment regardless the context; and can be easily forgotten, fade out or miss-classified as ‘not-good enough’.

This is why you need a single place where you can reflect your ideas and iterate to enrich, evaluate and prioritize them. You need a simple but consistent process to maintain your personal ideas backlog.

The following hints can help you in this direction.

How to generate more ideas

Think as a user!

Whenever you are using a real-world product or service, whenever you have a sub-optimal experience, try to think how would you do it! How it could become better — what are the issues of this poor experience and what is the root cause? There must be a better way, and you can definitely find it!

Identify problematic experiences 
Things that annoy you, that are not as efficient and effective as they should, are all great opportunities for novel thinking and idea generation!

Follow the tech scene
You need to have a good understanding of the developments in terms of technology; this can trigger innovative thinking and define what is technologically feasible and what’s coming next.

Check also: how to establish an innovation culture

Create your ‘ideas backlog’

Reflect and manage your ideas in a single place
A single living document where you maintain summaries and metadata for every single idea you have. This will allow you to better manage your ideas, and further empower the idea generation process: as you list, describe your ideas, more will come!

Properly describe your idea
A short, comprehensive description of your idea is … a good idea! It is the key for maintaining your list and also helps you set the focus: trying to name/ define your idea in a compact way, makes you think of its most important aspects.

Set your objectives for your idea
Each idea could have different outcome and potential: an idea could result to a patent, a product feature, a new product, an experiment, an article; a company or even world-changing concept. State what the obvious objective or your idea is. This will help you to better prioritize and focus.

Enrich your ideas backlog

Classify your ideas
You need a simple but effective classification of your ideas: feasibility, objective and technological dependencies could be used to better organize your ideas into meaningful clusters.

Scan the market & competition
Metadata and relevant links, providing additional info on competitors, technologies, research is key in further evaluating your ideas.

Ask for feedback
Use your trusted circle to ask for quick feedback for your ideas; capture a summary of this feedback and insightful comments in your ‘ideas backlog’. This is a ‘living document’ — you should keep enriching your ideas as you go.

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