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Ideation Process / The Light Bulb Moment


Ideation is the process where you generate ideas and solutions. It’s when we process information and then plan how to put everything into action. It starts with some type of stimulant or influence towards a desire goal or outcome, and, in that moment, we see or feel importance, relevance and impact. So much so, we decide that it is something we want to consider moving forward in our own spheres of influence.

Take note that Ideation can be visual, concrete or abstract. It produces a value possibility into something we do or oversee as a means to come into some type of desired outcome. Maybe even with any uncertainty and doubt about circumstances, mindset, or skillset, the thing becomes a target. In general, we project an energy towards doing one thing to get something.

Ultimately, Ideation Begins with a Proverbial Light Bulb Going Off

Rather than ask you if you have ever had a moment when the light bulb goes off, the question I want to ask is, what do you do when it does go off? You know, someone says something or something happens, and you internalize, “That’s a good idea. I should or could do that.”

Man sitting contemplating new ideas.

Ideas Come and Go. 

I cannot tell how many times I have come into an idea, not written it down in the moment, then tried to reform it later in my memory, and felt frustrated I could not recall all the details. It was frustrating because I knew it had a purpose in that moment and was probably pretty extraordinary. We all have moments like that.

The idea came. It flowered as a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action with a particular aim or purpose.

It would seem, something attracted interest, or connected in an aspect of reality. Some idea, tip, tactic, or concept made sense. So much so, we made some mental note. Perhaps it’s connected to a very specific aspect of what we have to do or regarding a person where the idea seemed to make the most sense. Maybe it validated a hunch or feeling about something that needs to get done. Or it was something we learned in the moment and was excited about adding to our day-to-day tool belt.

Identify Those Moments

Upon reflection, I believe there are three pretty basic types of moments we come into our ideas:

  • One, it’s the unexpected moment. We are in the midst of whatever we are doing, it just happens.
  • Two, we schedule reflection, and even call it navel-gazing, we plan for thinking through things we have in front of us and project some thoughts on moving forward.
  • And three, we are part of a collective, and collaboration stimulates pathways and actions that will deliver a desire effect and impact.

Whichever method produces ideas, the call-out in this early stage of ideation is capturing as much as possible to begun forming what it is, what we want, why, and maybe even somehow elements in living it out.

Consider each of those potential ‘light bulb’ moments, how are we capturing the details? I am really bad at stopping and jotting down my thoughts. I believe if we lose that moment and the details, we lose the idea. Life is happening at high speed, and if you do not make notes when we are in the moment, we may very well lose the thing that stimulated our thought. We can forget the essence, behaviors, and outcome.

Woman writing down ideas on a notebook.

Create Some Type of System

So, work in the method that makes the most sense:

  • Write it down on paper
  • Tell someone

Capture what you can so that when you have a pause and moment to breathe, you can collect your thoughts and figure out the scope of the idea. What it is. How it applies. Why it matters. How much it needs to be in play. Bullet out the fine points, or even the ones we’ve yet to completely cross out.

Having it down, or listed in some way, makes your idea real. Real-ish. It, at least, makes the thoughts around your notion closer to being something to do rather than something to guess at.

Ideas come and go, and, being real, not all of them are worthy of energy, effort and resource. Sometimes, though, they are exactly what we need to keep moving forward. They remind us that we are involved and engaged. Aware and awake.

What we do with them…that comes in the next installments!

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