Capturing Ideas

Why Taking Notes is Vital to Innovation

When it comes to tips on how to be creative, the first one that comes to mind is, “Take notes.”  I’ve learned that this lesson applies in many different contexts. 

In an art class, I was told to take a pocket sketch pad with me at all times, and to sketch interesting objects, compositions, and elements that I saw. From friends who write stories, I heard that it was best to have a note pad and pencil with you at all times, even on the nightstand. Inspiration can strike at unexpected times with a bit of dialogue, an interesting phrase, an evocative image, a new twist for a murder mystery, whatever—and if you do not write it down right now, “the best idea I had, ever!” is likely to be forgotten.

This rule also applies to brainstorming sessions. As a Word Processing Specialist, I spend most of my time behind a screen and keyboard during idea generation sessions, furiously typing what everyone is saying, capturing ideas and interesting language and putting them into the record. Whether it’s good or bad or indifferent, we save all the sifting and filtering for later. The important thing is to record it, right now.

During an innovation session, it takes time for someone to share an idea. Meanwhile, other participants often think of further ideas and tweaks. If they don’t do something with those thoughts right away, they just might forget them. This tempts some people to interrupt and break out of order. To prevent everything from devolving into chaos, everyone in the session has a pad and a pencil. This lets them capture ideas without disrupting the session.

So if you’ve got an idea, jot it down. Even if you don’t have the time to write the entirety of it, take notes and capture your ideas. Even a few words might help to spur your memory when you review it later. Maybe it won’t turn out to be such a great idea. Or it may need more work. Or it could be the greatest idea ever. Don’t worry about that. You can converge and prioritize and edit later. Right now, just get it down while it’s still fresh in your mind. Capture that idea, move on, and come up with another idea. Because that really is one of the keys to success in ideating. 

©2012 Ideas To Go, Inc. All rights reserved.

Jordan Peacock

Jordan Peacock is a Word Processing Specialist at Ideas To Go, an innovation agency that works with Fortune 500 companies in ideation and concept development to incorporate the voice of the consumer.