Where do your best ideas come from? How do you choose ideas to pursue?


Last week was the 5th annual San Diego Startup Week. I had the honor of speaking on UX and Agile at Moniker Warehouse and participating on a panel discussion on Creativity. My talk on UX and Agile was based on my new book, Easy to Use 2.0, and was well attended.

The panel on Creativity was held at our lovely downtown library auditorium with an impressive cast, including: Paul Basile, Principal and Lead Designer at Basile Studio; Kurt Hunker, Dean of Architecture at the NewSchool of Architecture & Design; Stacey Lankford Pennington, Principal at SLP Urban Planning; Simeon Pieterkosky, CVO at Aquaai; moderated by Liane Thompson, CEO at Aquaai; and myself.

We covered many topics on the panel, including “Where do your best ideas come from? How do you choose ideas to pursue?”

For me, in my earlier days as an artist, my ideas chose me. They came from my muse. Some may consider the “muse” a metaphor or literal spirit. Psychological or metaphysical, the results are the same, an idea would pop into my head and I would run with it. I would dream many of my ideas and kept a sketch pad next to my bed. The shower was a good place for the muse to visit, too.

As an experience designer, my ideas come from what I learn about my target audience through research.

As both an artist and experience designer, I work my ideas through a process of divergence and convergence thinking to form a problem statement and solution.

I follow a Design Thinking methodology with a Human-Centered Design process. It starts with research and analysis and goes through brainstorming, and iterative prototyping and testing – with lots of feedback from the target audience and stakeholders.

At its core, the process is the process… I like to think that I am getting more and more comfortable going on these journeys as I get more and more experience… constantly learning and hopefully growing.

I hope sharing this is helpful to you. Maybe it affirms what you already know or felt. Or maybe there are some new ideas here for you to consider.