Before you say, “hey asshole, my idea doesn’t need improving!”

It is hard to look at your idea or concept subjectively.

And no wonder. I mean, you came up with it after all! It is your baby. You had that light bulb moment, and you are 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 is ok.

But 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 or number of lines or thickness of paper matter one jot.

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

Open the notebook, and write down the number 1. 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 1 until it becomes idea 2. Flesh out idea 2 until it becomes 3.

Highlight one area of the 3rd idea. ‘Zoom in’ to finer details. Expand these a couple of times to form ideas 4, 5 and 6. Expand those finer details to become ideas 7–10. You get the picture.

The idea 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 through it, and choose 5–10 final concepts.

Turn this 5–10 into 2–3.

With these 2–3, you can either repeat the development process (not necessarily 100 though) or 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 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 starts.
  • Next, go more positively 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 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 is 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 and outline the new situations and defines 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 that 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, be bold, yet 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 change the lives of others.