Between 1975 and 1981, Australian heavy metal band AC/DC released a total of eight full-length studio albums, essentially putting out a record every year. Clearly, they were on a creative high back in those days, putting their ideas to music in rapid-fire succession. Were all of those albums great? Eh. Was every song as timeless as “Back in Black?” No, but the volume of “content” the band released increased its odds of creating true classics. And that they did. No question AC/DC has a permanent place in the annals of rock music.
But these revered rockers went from releasing one new record (or two in the case of 1975) every year for seven years to releasing just four albums in an 18-year span, ending with their most recent 2008 “Black Ice.” Did they run out of ideas? Were outside market forces holding them back?
I promise to tie this back to our real lives… My guess is that very early on in their careers, the members of AC/DC got comfortable with something we lose touch with as we get older: a sense of care-free creativity. In their youth, they were likely very comfortable putting out every idea they came up with. Damn the critics, let’s just get this stuff out there, mates! Personally, I love that approach.To have lots of good ideas, we need lots of bad ones too. We need lots of ideas, period.Click To Tweet
No matter what line of work you’re in – PR, marketing, advertising, heck, even detective work – the more ideas you come up with and share with others, the more likely you are to hit on winners. To come up with one or two great ideas, or just solve the kinds of everyday challenges we all face, you need to have many “irons in the fire.” And you have to get comfortable with the fact that to have lots of good ideas, we need lots of bad ones too. We need lots of ideas, period.
Here are four tips to help get the juices flowing.
Simply put, the more experiences we have, the more we have to draw from when we’re looking for idea inspiration. Get out there. Network. Go to conferences. Ask someone you don’t know very well to join you for lunch.
Fill the funnel.
Make use of all the inspiration drawn from experiences, and generate more ideas – good and bad. Fill the funnel. After all, the more we put into it, the more we have to filter, and the more that will make it to the bottom in the form of new content, businesses, products and more.
Create a safe environment for creativity.
One of the pitfalls of traditional brainstorming sessions is that we clam up and don’t contribute because we’re afraid of what others will think. By creating a safe place for brainstorming, free from criticism, your team will focus on getting ideas out (any ideas!) so they can be built upon – not thrown out.
Kill your darlings, but not too soon.
Inevitably, you’re going to have to axe some of the ideas on the table – even those you (or others on your team) really like, believe in and want to execute. Get used to looking at your ideas objectively and choosing those that have the best chance for success or support your goals best, and letting go of others – or at least putting them aside for a while. But make sure you give all ideas room to breathe before you send them on their way.
Ideas are the currency of every communicator. How do you generate your best ideas?