New ideas pop up when you’re able to make connections between existing things floating around in your brain.
I call these things the raw ingredients. The more raw ingredients you have, the more concoctions (ideas) you’re likely to make. And the more likely those ideas will be “out of the box”.
The best way to collect new raw ingredients is to force yourself out of your routine and comfort zone. Such as:
1. Drive a different way to work and really notice the differences.
As you are driving, narrate your surroundings to yourself aloud: “Park. Restaurant. Dogs. School”. You’re much more likely to take in the new experience and then you’ll have more raw ingredients to work with when you’re brainstorming at the office.
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2. Ask a stranger from your office building to take you to their favourite lunch spot.
This works especially well in multi-level office buildings. Get your manager to agree to give $100 a week to your team for industry research and each week a different person in your team has to get in the lift, go up three or four levels in your building and go to the exact same position on that floor as they sit on your floor. Explain to the person sitting there that you’d like to take them to lunch and pose a business challenge to them for their “fresh eyes” perspective on it. And you’ll do the same for them. I dare you!
3. Check the movie guide and choose a movie genre you’d normally never see.
Write a review of it on Facebook, Google+ or comment on a blog that’s talking about the movie.
4. Visit a museum you never planned on going to.
Check what exhibitions are going on at the museums in your travelling distance and go to one you’d never normally select.
5. Pick up the very next magazine you see that does not belong to you and read it from cover to cover. Same applies to books.
I implemented a system for a team in one of the big four banks where each member of the team had to bring in a book from their own collection at home and put it on the desk of another team member that they thought would enjoy reading it.
It all comes under the heading of expanding your horizons. Let me know how you go!