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'New ideas please!'

A cautionary warning to the tallest order on the creativity table.

8 pm, Monday

‘Am I creative?’ She said to herself in a whisper as she made her way back to the lousily lit foyer of her year old home. The dorms seemed empty with only an occasional laugh and distant mumbling voices to prove otherwise. She walked in pauses as she counted the tiles and the circumstances that led her to this very hallway. The playback of her journey so far was interrupted by the door and her new roommate.

‘So, How was your day?’ She asked the distracted stranger.

‘It was great! Some new insights learnt from the history of design. I am excited for what’s to come!’ - the roommate answered with an enthusiasm unmatched.

Just as she turned to dump her bag onto the only chair in the room, the question bounced right back at her.

‘How was yours?’

The real answer was a definite conversation killer so she dresses up with a plastic smile and painstaking diplomacy and replies, ‘Yes! The project in class was an eye opener! There is still lots to learn.’

Spent from the battle that waged in her mind, she reluctantly sat on her work desk after making it through a meal much less inspiring. Surrounded by some blank sheets, an empty Google search bar and yet another assignment, she escaped with a song dedicated to herself. On singing the first bad note, she had her first head-on collision with the assignment on her desk - quite literally. All the while asking - ‘Is it really that simple? That it’s not even worth the storm in my head.’

10.25 pm, One of those days

Right opposite, she observed her roommate having taken a stroll, make a few calls and finish half the assignment. She let out a sigh and bravely, left her seat to ask the unanswered question - ‘How do you get new ideas?’

Her faltering optimism was tested as her roommate pointed towards a densely populated Google image webpage and said, ‘ Look! I found a best practice. This seems to have worked. I will just use this. Maybe tweak it a little and I am done.’ The advice that followed was enough for her to question her decision of having left her desk in the first place - ‘Explore more. You are sure to score well.’

And just like that, every single opportunity was killed by a growing CGPA and the winning quest to becoming an even faster Googler.


On examining this popular approach, I ask you this - ‘How to conjure new ideas every single time?’

To explain, I shall proceed with a series of requests. Keep in mind that they aren’t mutually exclusive, at least not in today’s world.

The first of them -

The importance of awareness.

Look closely- the world is advancing at the rate of at least 3.5 billion scrolls and clicks per second. In this techno centric age, is it enough to know how to Google an idea? If only.

As in the above monologue, one can easily derive that the time to find compelling ideas is always less. This restraint causes people to make hasty decisions and uninformed attacks at the problem which is still not fully visualised. However, it is imperative to note that at the centre of every creative endeavour is a real person who is faced with a challenging issue. So, it must not come as a surprise, that only those who find adaptive, relevant and compelling ideas will stand the test of time.

Once we are gather and analyse information, I delve into my second request - Understanding the rate of change.

Simply, the current context demands a different approach from before. Old Ideas and the methods that were used to bring them to life are both increasingly redundant. If we don’t understand the gravity of this shift, there is an excellent chance that the one dimensional ideas so created, will eventually isolate their users.

My final request is monumental on several accounts as it needs the most work -

Begin by defining the environment the idea must exist in and contribute to.

This one is tricky. And rightly so, as with time, people all over the world have reduced the definition of an idea to this:

Idea (noun):

A thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action.

Or alternatively, what my character got more of -

‘It is a google search that isn't a part of your search history.’

This definition is far from succinct, at least not for a creative person in a largely scientific environment. It is crucial that the ideas we create live longer than the day we draw them up for a presentation.

On addressing the limits of an idea, namely, its environment, one can get crucial insights into where the idea yet to sprout must grow and how creativity must be employed to gather the best in them.

For this purpose, we can define the external environment to largely be in two spaces - radically innovative and incrementally innovative. In an environment of radical innovation, the factors affecting are oftentimes more complex, fast changing and competitive. The ideas so generated must stem from iterative cycles that are backed by adaptive creative thinking and informative data analysis. On the other hand, incremental innovation is useful in environments that have finite resources and lesser competition. The ideas in this situation are improvements over older implementations.

However, in a world of saturated offerings and the increasingly informed user, it is only a matter of time before a holistic approach to iterative idea generation will be the need of the hour for either environment.

So, on bringing together all my requests, I have a recipe for new ideas that you must try! And order wisely.

Crack the pestering issue,

sprinkle in a meaningful conversation,

And whisk in our ever-changing environment.

By doing the most human of things, we can all say we are step closer to creativity.


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