Idea Generation Essay

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¶ … Generation:

Personal Response

Good employees, supervisors, and managers have to be able to come up with good ideas. If they can't, then their businesses probably won't be in business for much longer! But how can we come up with ideas? What are the secrets of idea generation? From writers to managers to artists to actors and producers, each have used creative mans of generating ideas. In this paper, I'll discuss three methods of idea generation -- free association methods, forced relationship methods, and brainwriting methods. After giving a brief description of each of these methods, I'll provide my own reaction to them, as well as discussing when they might be used. Finally, I'll use some of these methods in determining how I could come up with some good ideas if I were working for GM. This practical application of these idea-generating methods will show how important they are, and how they can be easily used to come up with some great ideas.

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TOPIC: Essay on Idea Generation Assignment

Free association or brainstorming is one of the first methods that the authors discuss for generating ideas. In a normal free association exercise, a person would give a stimulus, and others would say the first thing that comes to mind when that person heard the word. For example, if someone heard the word "time," he or she might respond with the word "clock." The free association can continue for any length of words or phrases or time. For instance, when one person said "time," then "clock," he or she might use clock to remind him or her of the word "hand," and so on. Sometimes, a person who hears a stimulus might think or a related stimulus, like "time" and "clock." These concepts are related. Others may come up with an unrelated answer when presented with the stimulus, "time." For example, one person may come up with the seemingly unrelated concept of "cake." While these two words seem unrelated, they probably are related to the person who said them. For instance, that person may have been thinking about the Alice in Wonderland tea party, at which the guests talk about both time and cake. The words are just unrelated in concept. The idea is actually generated when the person associating the two words thinks of something new because of them. For instance, a manager looking for a way to encourage her employees to make timely shipments may use the idea generation method of free association to come up with "time" and "cake." This manager may then think that a rewards system, offering the timeliest employee a party, would be a good way to achieve her goal. Personally, I've used this method of idea generating many times in my life to not only come up with ideas, but also to realize how I really feel about things. it's a great way to get a person to think creatively. But what happens when the free association just doesn't bring two words together that can be used to solve a problem? I know the "right" answer to this might be to continue associating, but I think this could get frustrating for some people, myself included. For this reason, the pros of this idea include the innumerable amount of choices that those using free association can make, while the cons are made up of the frustration the some may feel when they cannot generate an idea from their associations.

III. Forced Relationships

Another type of idea generation that the authors discuss is the forced relationship. The authors define forced relationships as "pairing one related stimulus with either another related stimulus...or an unrelated one" (6-6). The related stimulus word has to do with the problem that a person is trying to solve, while the other word can be anything. For instance, an employee looking for a way to motivate his group members to put more effort into organizing might pair the word "organize" with "globe." By forcing these unrelated stimuli, the employee might think about telling group members that management tends to send the most organized group members on international business for the company, trips that often include sightseeing and dining at the company's expense. For me, a forced relationship is most difficult if it is between two unrelated stimuli, but a forced relationship is still one of the most promising methods for coming up with ideas. For instance, I think it would be easy to come up with several methods for motivating employees to work overtime by forcing relationships between overtime and related concepts such as pay, promotion, office, and boss. But I also think the most innovative ideas come from forced relationships between unrelated stimuli. They might also be most more effective. For instance, employees probably already understand that working overtime means earning a bigger paycheck, but the promise of world travel to encourage organization is new, and most likely more effective to those who had never considered it before. For this reason, I think the positive aspect of forced relationships is the fact that some of the newest and most innovative ideas can be formed this way. On the other hand, forced relationships might not work on the first, second, or even third try. It might be difficult for a person to come up with the correct stimuli. Callahan (2006) says that coming up with ideas requires the application of logic, but many of the ideas that one would come up with by using forced relationships would be illogical.

III. Brainwriting

Like free association, or brainstorming, and forced relationships, brainwriting is another form of idea generation cited by the authors of this text. Many different kinds of idea generation techniques can fall under the umbrella of brainwriting, which is described as "the silent, written generation of ideas in a group" (6-8). Brainwriting can either be nominal or interacting, meaning that group members can either write ideas down themselves without sharing them or write them in a group together, helping to generate more ideas. Some studies have found that brainwriting is better than brainstorming because brainstorming usually encourages only one member of a group to contribute at a time. Brainwriting means many members of a group can contribute ideas, recording them (6-9). I think brainwriting can be a very beneficial technique because it not only allows people to come up with different ideas, but also have a record of those ideas. Personally, brainwriting has often helped me to come up with ideas. For many, the best way to come up with new ideas is to follow a familiar model, such as knowledge multiplied by experience (Siegel 2009). But often, a person's knowledge is locked inside his r her mind. Sometimes just looking at a word helps me think of another word, then another, and how they come together to form phrases and ideas. While I think idea generation is important, the characteristic that will set the achievers apart from those who just try to get by, I believe the person who tries the greatest number of idea generating techniques has a better chance of coming up with the greatest ideas.

IV. Practical Application: Forced Relationships at GM

In order to prove this point, I discuss how I would use one of these idea generation ideas if I were trying to generate new ideas for a sedan with GM's new Product Development Team. Considering how each type of idea generation tool would help me, I land on forced relationships because this tool helps a person to come up with the most unique ideas. In today's economy, a new sedan would be a luxury for most families. Worried about the economy, many families would actually refuse to purchase a new car, preferring instead to go the used route. For this reason, a new, innovative idea must be generated. Thus, forced relationships will be used. I will start with a list of words that have to do with the question or problem at hand. These words include car, drive, vehicle, and sedan. First, I will pair these with some words related stimuli. I form the following combination:

Car -- gas

Drive -- mileage

Vehicle -- interior

Sedan -- reliable

Forcing a relationship between these stimuli is easy. Through this exercise, I would be able to recommend a car that gets good gas mileage, has a pleasing interior, and is mechanically reliable. These characteristics describe nearly every new car, so I use some unrelated stimuli to force more relationships. The following pairs were created:

Car -- rain

Drive -- purple

Vehicle -- standing

Sedan -- Wipeout.

After studying these unrelated pairs, I force the following relationships or create the following ideas:

This car has a new type of windshield wipers and defrosting system that will make it easier to see when it rains. The car drives so well in bad weather that it makes driving in these conditions enjoyable. The car will need to produce low emissions, so people in cities will feel comfortable buying one. Finally, the car has some… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Idea Generation" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Idea Generation.  (2009, February 28).  Retrieved September 25, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Idea Generation."  28 February 2009.  Web.  25 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Idea Generation."  February 28, 2009.  Accessed September 25, 2021.