There is nothing more powerful than a great idea. But where do they come from, and how can you help make them happen?

While there’s no simple answer, no ‘one way’ to get there, there are ways to create an environment that nurtures great ideas. The first is to address what a mate of mine, Jamie Lewis calls the ‘Three Bogeymen of Creativity’ – Fear, Assumption and Complacency.

We are all pre-programmed to respond to fear more than opportunity. If our evolutionary ancestors missed a feed, they could probably last until they found another one, but if they missed a predator coming for them, then it’s goodnight Irene. There are so many ways this powerful emotion can keep us from trying something new – fear of failure, fear of disappointment, even fear of being laughed at for coming up with something others don’t quite grasp. It’s a hard one to get over, but the first step is to create an environment that minimizes fear and encourages people to speak up and contribute ideas, even if they themselves are almost too embarrassed to voice them.

Mike Brady was a clever man. Not just as an architect but also a pop philosopher. It was in an episode of the Brady Bunch where he learned me the adage ‘“When you assume you make an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’”. And he was onto something, especially where creativity is concerned. You’ll never come up with a new idea without challenging existing assumptions, without rocking the status quo. Make a hypothesis, test it out, if it doesn’t work, try another way. Look at a situation from a new angle. It’s amazing how unraveling just one assumption can lead you to a whole new way of thinking.

Complacency is the last of the bogeymen, but he’s possibly the most dangerous. If you get complacent, you get lazy, you fall asleep at the wheel. If you are satisfied with the way things are, you lose your hunger to find new ways to do things. And while you’re laying around, someone else is out there with a hunger to shake things up. Before you know it, you’re this year’s Kodak.

When you ask any creative person what piece of work they are most excited about, they will nearly always answer, ‘The next one’. You have to keep looking forward and be eager to try new things. And sending the Three Bogeymen packing is your first step.