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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

April 14, 2011 at 2:58 PM

MIX11: How to come up with lots of great ideas

LAS VEGAS — User experience was a hot topic at Microsoft’s MIX conference this week. UX, as it’s commonly called, describes the end layer of software that users interact with.

In a house, the UX would be the interior and exterior design, as opposed to the framing, plumbing and electrical wiring.

Thursday afternoon, MIX had a session called “Mind Bending UX.” The session addressed how to consistently come up with great ideas, featuring Robby Ingebretsen from Pixel Lab, a Seattle-area digital creative agency.

Here are some of Ingebretsen’s pointers:

  • Great ideas are seldom dreamed up as one big idea. They come on as a “slow hunch.”
  • Ideas are a combination of lots of ideas that act like spare parts and enable the big leap. For instance, “There’s no way you could have come up with the microwave in 1650,” he said.
  • Great ideas are somewhere between ridiculous and intuitive. This, he said, relies on gestalt, the ability to perceive things holistically. “We perceive relationships between the elements rather than the elements themselves,” he said. “A great example is the symphony. You don’t hear the separate instruments.”
  • Good ideas are evocative, he said. “We want to create closure for people, to close the gap and cause them to go through something evocative … Some people call this zeitgeist, the knowledge of the time.”
  • Once you come up with ideas, you need to “masticate the information. Pick it apart. Chew it up,” Ingebretsen said. “This allows your idea to be authentic.”
  • Don’t assume brainstorming creates great ideas. Brainstorming produces solutions, he said, but not necessarily insight.

He summed it up in five steps for generating good ideas:

  1. Identify the thing
  2. Deconstruct it
  3. Expansive thinking
  4. Creative randomness
  5. Evaluate good or not

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