Good ideas can come and go in an instant.  The moment that a thought comes to mind I make an effort to add it to my notes for use later.  Sometimes I’ll come back to it and use it for its intended purpose.  The note may be of use now or some point in the future.

Building on random thoughts and turning them into something useful is not easy.  It’s helpful to have a context in which to place the idea.  At least you can draw on clues from the setting to inspire how the thought develops next.  The key, though, to carrying an idea forward is iteration and experimentation.  Take a shot at turning that thought into the next version of itself.  Then repeat.

The faster that you can experiment with new versions and explore what will work then the sooner you’ll arrive at your desired solution.  It’s also ok to take detours, backup, or start over.  A project may go off the rails one day, but be fine the next.  Unexpected connections will be made and new forms will emerge.  Each option can be tested to see if it works to solve your problem and then perhaps adjusted for the next go around.

Iteration works when you are able to put in the time to generate many options quickly, take a step back, and sort out what you think works and what doesn’t.  This may involve a customer or it may not.  I find that its helpful to work in a small format such as a sketch or a few words on a sticky note.  I save my notes and often take pictures of what I’ve created and the options that have been explored.  It becomes part of the design narrative of the project.

A few tips: The creative process tends to not be linear.  Iteration of ideas enables you to cast a wide net and explore many options quickly.  Finding the right answer is often not apparent until you’ve had time to step back and consider the various options that have been generated.  More than anything it should be fun.

[Photo: A sketch of an organizational model.]

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