As I mentioned last week, I’m working with a design intern this summer. We were talking about the over all design process, when I argued, when you get to the ideation stage you have to grind it out.
I like this metaphor. You can’t just have one or two ideas and expect one of them to be good. You have to generate a lot of ideas and if you are lucky one or two of them might be good.
I think for people who don’t do creative work often, this might be counterintuitive. We’ve all had the experience of the a-ha moment in the shower. it seems so effortless. But what we don’t remember is all the work we did leading up to it.
It’s not very hard to come up with the first design. With enough inspiration, it may not be too hard to come up with the second or third design. But it might take 10 or 20 iterations before you get to a good design.
When I’m working on a tricky design problem, I like to identify the two or three areas that I know are gong to make or break the design and I grind it out.
I’ll generate 25 different ideas for how it could work. Then I’ll sleep on it. The next day I’ll do it again.
I don’t always find a better design, 10, 20, 30 iterations in. But I do always get a better understanding of the problem I’m trying to solve. Even if the first design is the one I end up running with, it gets better from having considered the others.
And finally, don’t get caught up in whether or not your ideas are any good. You have to get through the bad ideas to find the good ideas. And more often than not, the good ones are derivative of the bad ones. In this phase, all ideas matter.
Now go find yourself a white board and grind it out.
When was the last time you had to grind it out? Did it pay off? Please share in the comments.