Where do good ideas come from?


It happens over coffee, in the classroom and design studios, but now we are seeing it on larger scale in online communities and mastermind groups. The conventional way of reaching that ‘eureka’ moment in solitude has been replaced by the 21 Century ‘aha’ moment. It comes as people from different backgrounds share their unique voices, talents and perspectives to find solutions to every day problems and needs.

Stephen Johnson, author of Where good ideas come from, suggests that an idea is a network of neurons within your brain. The network grows as you are exposed to different environments and different ways of thinking. As you learn, new networks are formed. Creativity comes, as Steven puts it, “Taking ideas from other people and stitching them together to make something new.”

Networking and collaborating with others helps us apply and work through the design process. Rather than protecting our ideas from others, we should be allowing others to connect with them, in order to reach a better solution or outcome.

So how do we arrive at that “great idea” using the design process?

The D3 process (Dream it, Design it, Do it)  incorporates many of the design thinking principals that are used by creative professionals today. It has also been introduced to young people in classrooms to encourage problem solving, innovation, risk-taking and creating projects that are meaningful to them.

D3 offers a free resource for educators interested in incorporating design into their classroom including methodology, processes and strategy tools. You can learn more about these initiatives at the New Learning Institute.

The 4 c’s of the design process

1. Collaboration

When we collaborate, design helps us empathise and understand others. Innovative problem solving comes as we get different ideas from various sources or input from people that are different to us. We can then combine those ideas, refine them, then discover the solutions to problems.

2. Creativity

The next step is to create visual concepts to bring that idea to life. As we work through this stage we wrestle with any challenges or opportunities to improve the idea.

3. Critical thinking

Critical thinking stems from curiosity. Seeking to learn by asking questions. Having varied solutions to the design challenge helps us look at the idea from different angles. Once we have a selection of approaches to the problem it’s time to get some constructive criticism and feedback from others. The goal is to arrive at the best solution.

4. Communication

In order to collaborate effectively we need to communicate those ideas we want to bring to life. We do that by verbal, written and visual communication.

Responding to needs

Timothy Prestero, is a leader of Design That Matters, a non-profit that solves problems for and with the poor in developing countries using design. In a TEDx talk in Boston he spoke about design that matters. Design for outcomes. Pay attention to what people need. Design for manufacture and distribution keeping in mind there are no dumb users only dumb products. If you really want to make a difference in the world design for outcomes.

Do you allow others to connect with your ideas for the purpose of achieving better outcomes?

Heather Lee

Heather Lee

Heather has had many years experience as a graphic designer in both the advertising and publishing industry. She enjoys helping others by providing solutions to visual problems for print and the web.
Heather Lee

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