New combination of old elements

D. Murali | Updated on March 09, 2018


Ten, fifteen, twenty years from now, what will be the things you will regret most? Perhaps not the dumb things you did during that time, but the things you did not do, the chance you did not take, the opportunity you did not seize, the idea you did not stay with, says Jack Foster in How to Get Ideas ( His simple advice, therefore, is, “Take it. Seize it. Stay with it.”

The ‘it,' obviously, is the ‘idea,' defined by James Webb Young as ‘a new combination of old elements.' And, to get your mind into idea-condition, you must have fun, says Foster. He recounts from his experience that the teams with frowns and furrowed brows rarely got anything good, whereas the ones smiling and laughing almost always did. One of the chapters in the book is about how one can combine old elements to come up with a new idea. A simple suggestion is to look for analogues, that is, comparisons between two things that are similar in one or more respects. “Whatever problem or story line or invention or project you're working on, see if you can compare it, at least in one particular, to something else. It could help you arrive at solutions you might not have arrived at otherwise,” guides Foster.

Ready takeaways for the idea-hungry.

Published on June 01, 2012

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