Where to begin in the hunt for ideas?

By Jamie Bell, 20 December 2021 | 3 mins read

Where do ideas come from?

Do they appear out of nowhere in a puff of smoke? Or are they something that sits in the back of our minds waiting to be tapped into?

Truth is, a new idea and nothing more than a combination of old elements. Any creative thought or idea is the final act of a long series of invisible processes going on within the subconscious. A process that isn’t actually as mystifying as you might think when you break it down into digestible chunks and actions with an understanding of how the brain comes up with ideas in the first place.

The ability to have ideas rests entirely on the individual’s ability to take old ideas and experiences and rewire them into something entirely new and original. To take all of the things sitting in the back of the mind, see original relationships and connect the dots. To think creatively we need to look with fresh eyes at what we would usually take for granted.

Brilliant creative thinkers (Speculators) are able to see these connections at a much faster rate than others. They are able to connect the dots and combine the elements, whereas the Rentier keeps these experiences entirely separate.

No new connections = no new ideas.

In short, a new idea is a fresh combination of bits of rearranged old ideas.

And the ability to have ideas is largely dependent on your ability to make connections and see relationships out of all of the jumbled information lurking in the back of your subconscious.

Keep your eyes open. Always.

Ideas are about gathering knowledge so that you can pick or choose which parts of that knowledge to re-arrange into new ideas.

Any Sherlock Holmes fan will know that the pipe smoking super sleuth loved a good scrapbook, 221b Baker Street was littered with them. All full of odd bits of materials, newspaper clippings, notes and observations. It was this catalogue of experience that enabled Sherlock to make such canny connections.

Or as 70’s Ad Maestro Leo Burnett said “Curiosity about life in all its aspects is the secret of great creative people”

So open your mind and creativity might well follow.