What does it take to come up with a really great idea?


I don’t do conferences. There are so many conferences that they now have conferences about conferences. But I do respect them and I always supported my clients, colleagues and staff to attend them. I think they have a lot of value as social gatherings. Sometimes you even learn stuff.

I simply made a decision early on that I do not have time to do everything so you have to say no to some things. Conferences are some of the things I chose not to spend time on. Someone once said that they way to get successful is to work when other people are going to parties. I know it is not quite the same. But I prefer to spend as much time as possible to do actual work on projects.

I do read about conferences, though. And I manage to find inspiration from reading about them. Sometimes, I watch the odd YouTube presentation as well. But I find dialogue based Google Hangouts more inspiring than just listening to one man rambling.

Yesterday, I noticed there had been a mobile conference in Berlin. We have so many tech conferences here that they are not only every week but sometimes overlapping each other in the weeks.

A co-blogger shared the link on Venture Village to a report from the event and I noticed the pie graph above.

“The thing about collaboration is…I don’t like it,” says Christoph Niemann, world-renowned cartoonist and creator of the app “Petting Zoo”. During his keynote talk, Niemann explained to the audience why collaborating with the audience is actually what is most important to him and his work. Using humorous and thoughtful slides, videos and animations that showcased his own work, Niemann revealed how much of a struggle it is being an artist and an editor. How can you set your creativity free while maintaining simplicity? How can you bring your work back to its “essence”?

The part about staying off the Internet is healthy. It is also important to leave the office. Especially the conference room (“the graveyard of creative ideas”). I recommend art museums, libraries and the park for good creative spaces. Oh, and spas. Spas are excellent for fostering new thinking.

I agree in principle with the breakdown. And there is no doubt that effort is the driver in idea creation. However, I would allocate 10% to pure experimentation. You can keep making an effort but if you go in the same direction and things don’t work out you don’t go anywhere or, even worse, you fail.

Experimentation is a very underrated approach in business. And an openness to aleatoricism even more so. This attitude can, however, be instrumental in creating some of the most creative work. Just ask Brian Eno.

Even though I found out that he cheats with his Oblique Strategies cards.

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