How many times have you seen a new product design or solution to a design issue and thought, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Sometimes you may feel stuck in a rut when it comes to new ideas or solutions.
Fortunately, idea generation is a skill that you can learn and practice. It’s not some inborn talent that only some people have. Opening your mind just requires looking at things in a new way. But, how do you do that? Read on for a process you can use to spur more ideas—and excitement—in your CAD work!
One reason you may keep coming back to the same small selection of ideas is because you’re not paying attention to what other designers are doing on a regular basis. Your brain can’t offer new ideas if it hasn’t experienced anything different.
There are designs everywhere that can inspire you. Go out of your way to learn about them. Here are just a few ways:
- On the Web: Check out the tons of websites that offer designs. Or, if you have a few favorites, branch out and try some new sites. Here are some examples that might get your brain rolling:
- Thingiverse: The world’s largest 3D printing community for discovering, making and sharing 3D printable things.
- Sketchfab: The leading platform for publishing and finding free 3D content.
- GrabCAD: Easily manage and share your CAD files. Be inspired by the designs in the Community Library or the ebooks and videos in the Resource Library.
- Who Inspired You To Design: At some point, something or someone grabbed your imagination and made you want to be involved in the making of things. Revisit who inspired you early on. Next time you’re starting a project, think about how that person would tackle it. With social media, many engineers share their projects, thoughts and strategies. Follow a few of your favorites and see what you can learn. To get you started, read our list of 9 Engineers You Need to Follow on Twitter.
- Read, Read and Read Some More: As we said earlier, your brain needs a lot of information to formulate new ideas. Fill it with as much as you can by reading constantly. Read books, articles, blog posts, social media posts—anything and everything you can get your hands on. Here are some of our favorite resources:
- Have a Conversation (or 10): Nothing is better than actually getting out there and talking to people. It could be your boss, co-workers, other CAD designers, etc. Talk through your ideas and ask how they would improve them. Ask how they approach their projects. Soak up all they’re able to tell you.
Create a Process
Idea generation takes practice and training. Nothing helps your brain get used to new things better than repetition. Create a process to help you open your mind.
- Set Goals: One of the best ways to know if you’re making progress is to set a goal. As you achieve your goal, raise it. Your goal may be to come up with 10 ideas every day. Don’t worry if all 10 aren’t great ideas. It might spur the next genius notion.
- Write Down Your Ideas: Always write down your ideas so you don’t forget them. Carry a notebook so can capture ideas whenever they strike, or note them on your phone.
- Change the Way You Think: Changing the way you attack a new project or changing your thinking habits isn’t always easy. Many times it doesn’t take long for your brain to snap back to how you always do things. Here are a few ways think differently:
- Change Assumptions: Most people get through life by following their routines. These routines keep them from having to think about decisions because they know the outcomes. But, when you question your assumptions or explore different assumptions, you open your mind to new solutions.
- Do the Opposite: If the goal of your project is X, then explore your options if the goal is Y. What ideas do you come up with if you have the opposite goal? Can these ideas be altered to also work for X or can you see new paths to explore?
- Collaborating: Sometimes the best way to get out of your comfort zone is to work with someone that doesn’t think the same way you do. Best of all, sharing ideas usually comes up with an even better combined idea that neither of you would have had on your own.
Another Resource to Improve Your Creativity
These tactics will help you come up with new ideas. But there are a lot of ways to improve your creativity and ability to come up with ideas. The Creativity Handbook for 3D Professionals is a manual packed with habits, tools and hacks that will make you more creative, more often.
This handbook has more than 25 pages of information that will help you boost your design creativity and improve your career. Get started today.