Top of Mind: 5 Ways to Get Ideas Flowing

UPDATED: December 7, 2017
PUBLISHED: June 30, 2016

How Do You Create a Sense of Progress In Your Life?I believe the strongest new ideas come from solving people’s daily problems or frustrations. When brainstorming, I spend most of my time trying to gain a deep understanding of what people are trying to achieve in a given situation and where they have difficulties. This approach lends insights into ways and products that are innovative and fill an unmet need.

—Gulbin Hoeberechts, Chief Mom of Modern Table Meals

How Do You Create a Sense of Progress In Your Life?I’m big on collaborative ideation in which a group improves upon a gem of an idea through an iterative process. The best ideas happen in a kaizen way [process of continuous improvement.] New and expansive ideas often start from a small throwaway concept that a champion picks up, repackages and serves back out to the group. I also like to jump on the treadmill and blast heavy bass. The repetition, the breathing and the flow of oxygen help me see things in a new light. Ideas pop and click, and I note them on my smartphone as I run.

—Grace Jeon, CEO of JUST Water

How Do You Create a Sense of Progress In Your Life?I don’t. Instead, I let ideas come to me. When I bounce new ideas off of colleagues, friends, family, and more importantly, an end-user, their reaction determines my next steps. If they’re excited, this confirms I’m on the right course. I believe that the sooner you hit your audience with new ideas, the sooner you understand how viable those ideas are and whether they’re worth injecting into your business model.

—Rudy Callegari, founder of Zootly


How Do You Create a Sense of Progress In Your Life?Generally I go to a quiet place, take a piece of white paper and start writing my thoughts down. On the piece of paper, I will generally write the problem statement I am trying to solve, then I just keep writing down any ideas that come to mind, even if they are bad ideas. At the end of my session, I filter through all ideas and keep the best ones. I also tend to discuss these ideas/solutions with others to get feedback. I try to find experts in the area, but will also discuss with my team. I generally block out a period of “thinking time” once a week, to solve immediate and long-term problems. It is particularly important to avoid any distractions when I am brainstorming, such as my computer and phone.

—Salil Gupta, CEO and Partner of Vcare Technology

Top of Mind: How Do You Brainstorm New Ideas?I tend to brainstorm with my team when we are thinking of new ideas, and I prefer to do it when everyone is standing up away from our desks—ideally outside or in a new environment, as I think this helps with fresh thinking. I have a favorite saying at the office: “Let’s take a step back.” This usually helps to clarify thinking and to look at the problem or challenge at hand with a different view. I also use colored pens, sticky notes, and large pieces of paper and ask everyone to literally “think outside of the box.” If resources were not an issue, what would they do? This generally results in some amazing thoughts and ideas, which makes everyone feel uplifted and inspired and the “what if?” becomes a driver for innovation. If I have to think of something new or get my head around a problem myself in order to find a creative solution, I tend to do this while running outdoors, listening to some inspiring music.

—Melinda Nicci, CEO and founder of Baby2Body

Related: How to Be a Better Thinker, Innovator and Problem Solver


This article originally appeared in the July 2016 issue of SUCCESS magazine.

Jesus Jimenez is a staff writer for Dallas Morning News. He eats, breathes and sleeps Texas Rangers baseball. He also enjoys running, traveling and buying cool socks.