Ideation and Chemistry
Ideation is the process of generating ideas. Chemistry is the study of composition, properties, and behavior of matter. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds.
What do then, ideation and chemistry have in common? Both are combinatorial in nature. Both are marked by outcomes, that could be interesting from various combinations.
What is a new idea?
A new idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old ideas. Who can, then generate new ideas? A person, who knows how to combine old elements. Consider this for example:
To be is to Do – Rousseau
To do is to Be – Sartre
To Be Do Be Do – Sinatra
How to combine old elements to generate new ideas? Look for analogues. Is your problem similar or dissimilar to other problems? If it is similar, what is it similar to? If it is dissimilar what is dissimilar to?
If the greatest benefit of your product is speed of action or rapid action, what is the fastest thing in the world? Can you compare your benefit to that thing? What is the slowest thing in the world? Can you compare (or contrast) it with that?
If your product’s greatest benefit is its strength and power, what is the strongest and most powerful in the world? Can you compare it with that? Can you think of the weakest and least powerful things and compare (or contrast) your product and its benefits to them?
Is convenience is the greatest benefit of your product? Duration of action? Economy? Ease of use? Taste? Safety? Whatever be the greatest benefits of your product, find out the best (similar) and the worst (dissimilar) and compare your product benefits with those, to make your product benefits memorable.
What are the most convenient, durable, economical, easiest to use, tastiest, safest things or people you can think of? Or the most inconvenient, least duration of action, uneconomical, bitter, dangerous things or people can you think of. Compare (or contrast) your product benefits to them.
Dr. Roger Von Oech wrote in his famous book, A Whack on the Side of the Head:
“Often the best ideas come from cutting disciplinary boundaries and looking into other fields for new ideas and questions. Many significant advances in art, business, technology, and science have come about through cross fertilization of ideas. And to give a corollary, nothing will make a field stagnate more quickly than keeping outside ideas out.”
Think about it. How did Gutenberg invent the printing press? The coin punch and the wine press were around and in constant use for centuries. It took a Gutenberg to see the relationship and a connection between them. The idea of a printing press became a realty.
History of science, technology and invention offer many such examples.
Ideas and chemistry have something in common. Both are combinatorial!