Your mind is always working – thinking about problems and brainstorming ideas. If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s exciting when the creative juices are flowing. You feel energized and excited about the possibilities. However, other times you may feel stuck because you can’t figure something out or devise an innovative solution to your problem.
Good ideas are valuable in business, especially when followed by the corresponding action. Ideas are how your business grows and adapts. They’re the seeds that become new content, programs, and strategies. There are numerous ways to generate ideas, but great ideas come down to a few important factors: time and community.
How Do Great Ideas Develop?
You may think innovative ideas appear suddenly, like a lightbulb turning on. When someone has a great idea, we sometimes call it “a lightbulb moment.” However, research has shown that great ideas don’t typically form instantly.
Usually, a great idea will start out small and develop over a long period of time, even when it’s not at the forefront of your thoughts.
(For more information about Steven Johnson’s research on the origin of great ideas that propel us forward, check out his book here on Amazon: Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation)
Requirement #1 – Incubation Time
What I love about this video is the reassurance that it’s OK to take a while to implement your plans. Furthermore, good ideas require time, space, and interaction to bubble to the surface and become expressed.
The author, Steven Johnson, describes the formation of an idea as a “slow hunch.” It can take years for that idea to mature into something useful and accessible to you. So don’t feel guilty if you haven’t pursued the exciting idea you had last year. That idea is still incubating in your brain and may need more time.
Johnson also says the best ideas form when they collide with other “hunches.” In other words, ideas also need to connect with others before they are fully developed. A “hunch” from one person often connects with a “hunch” from someone else to produce a brilliant idea. That’s why community is so important in any endeavor!
Requirement #2 – Connections
In the video, Johnson points out that the primary driver of innovation and advancements has been increased connectivity with others. This makes sense. When your hunch can connect with my hunch, it produces an idea greater than the sum of its parts. Or, as Johnson puts it, “Chance favors the connected mind.”
There is great benefit in sharing thoughts and ideas. It’s one of the reasons why I do live coaching webinars and have very active Facebook groups for my courses. Often, a student may get a breakthrough about their own business while we’re discussing another student’s ideas or challenges. It was the missing piece they needed.
Do You Have a Community for Your Ideas?
My business is focused on coaching students and encouraging them to learn from each other. Sometimes a student will offer helpful information or advice that’s exactly what another student needs. Other times, a student will ask a question that someone else encounters down the road. The second student will know how to handle it because they’ve heard it answered before.
The Website Creation Workshop has a Facebook group and weekly coaching webinars where students can connect and learn from each other while building their WordPress website. Check out the “Next Workshop” link in the top menu.
The Website Marketing Workshop, my intermediate WordPress course, helps you further improve and market your WordPress site. In addition to the content in the classroom, students can connect and learn from each other in the Facebook group and on the live coaching webinars.
Keep Those Ideas Cooking
Your ideas need time and connections to develop into something great. Steven Johnson’s research shows that great ideas need time to mature and access other ideas. Innovative ideas can flourish through increased connectivity with others, whether in-person or on the Internet. A community of like-minded individuals can help generate new ideas, offer helpful advice, and provide support.
So what thoughts and projects are stewing on your back burner? If you’ve been pondering an idea, but it hasn’t come to fruition, don’t be discouraged or give up! That’s part of the creative process.
Do you have a community? Be intentional about connecting with others who are traveling a similar journey. If you’d like a WordPress community to help you with your website but are unsure which community is for you, check out our FAQ page.
(this article first appeared in February 2012)