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5 Steps: “A Technique for Producing Ideas” (Written by James W. Young)

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Whatever you’re going to do, having new ideas is very important. Today, we’ll learn from “A Technique for Producing Ideas” written by James Young.

(Duration: 5:33)

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Learn from “A Technique for Producing ideas” written by James Young.

Hi, this is Mike Negami, Lean Sigma Black Belt.

In the last video, we used the 5-How Analysis to list up necessary functions from the new process. With this method and its template, you can make the ideas visible to everyone, and you can convert them in a way that you can actually use them effectively.

However, we have to have ideas before that. How can we make ideas in our minds? Let’s learn it from “A Technique for Producing Ideas” written by James Young. The book is called a bible by people in the advertisement industry. The first edition was in 1940, so it is a great long-selling book.

What’s the 2 Principles to produce new ideas?

First of all, he says that it is important to learn principles first, then learn methods for learning something. There are two principles for how to make new ideas. The first one is:

The 1st Principle of 'A Technique for Producing Ideas'

“An idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old elements.”  From Page 10 of “A Technique for Producing Ideas” by James Young

There are people rich in ideas occasionally, but they are not geniuses. They have existing knowledge and they are making new combinations among them. When we hear something like this, we feel we can do the same, don’t we?

And the second principle is:

The 2nd Principle of 'A Technique for Producing Ideas'

“The capacity to bring old elements into new combinations depends largely on the ability to see relationships.”  From Page 10 of “A Technique for Producing Ideas” by James Young

In that case, if you improve your ability to see the relationships among things, you can make a lot of new ideas. So, how can we do this? The author introduces the five steps of this method.

He says:

About the 5 Steps of 'A Technique for Producing Ideas'

“Whenever an idea is produced, this technique is followed, consciously or unconsciously; and this technique can be consciously cultivated, and the ability of the mind to produce ideas thereby increased.”  From Page 13 of “A Technique for Producing Ideas” by James Young

It’s encouraging!

What’s the 5 Steps to produce new ideas?

1: “Gather raw materials”

The first step is to “Gather raw materials”.   There are also two types of materials: “Specific Materials” and “General Materials”. About this, he explains:

About Step 1 of 'A Technique for Producing Ideas'

“In advertising, an idea results from a new combination of specific knowledge about products and people, with general knowledge about life and events.”  From Page 16 of “A Technique for Producing Ideas” by James Young

2: Masticate those materials”

The second step is to “Masticate those materials”. In other words, look at individual materials at various angles, arrange and put together several things, and write down what you felt on paper even if it’s incomplete or seems crazy.

3: “Drop the whole subject.”

The next step is very interesting. After putting a lot of energy into the first two steps, you may feel hopeless and with no clear insight at this stage. Then, the third step is to “Drop the whole subject.”

It is important that you forget all ‘making-idea’ things, and do something fun that you like, like movies or reading, then you can let your own subconscious work for you.

4: “Out of nowhere the idea will appear”

The fourth step is “Out of nowhere the idea will appear”. When you’re relaxing and not expecting it at all, the idea which you’re looking for will suddenly come to you. This happened to me many times. I often got great ideas when I went to the bathroom or was taking a shower.

5: “Make the idea practical”

The final step is to “Make the idea practical” In reality, there are various situations and constraints. You have to change the produced idea into a form that can actually be used.  As a practice, instead of keeping the idea to yourself, show it to people around you and professional people in that area and get their feedback, then improve the idea.

There may be criticism among them, but that is a chance to make a leap to the contrary.  Really innovative ideas are not easily understood.  Until now, there were millions of ideas that couldn’t be made practical and died. Keep improving your idea incorporating your situations and constraints and make it happen.

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