How to get ideas (& climb the corp ladder)

10 Jan,2012

By Tuhina Anand


Veteran adman and now business and innovation coach R Sridhar has come out with an e-book titled ‘How to get ideas – an incomplete book’. The book is a collection of insights from various people who have shared their mantras on how they get their ideas. Mr Sridhar, who is former chairman at OgilvyOne Worldwide and director at O&M, and whose website is at, explained, “I am an innovation coach and I work with people to help them do things differently. So when it comes to doing things differently, idea plays an important role in achieving this. I have had several conversations with people on what triggers an idea in them and this led me to collate the responses and put it in a book.”


Mr Sridhar calls it an incomplete book because he hopes to come out with version 2 in three to six months’ time, where he aims to include not just national players but inputs from global players. However, Mr Sridhar categorically avers that the book is not targeting advertising professionals as he adds that most in the business think they know it all, but largely aims at the corporate world.


He added, “We are all creative in one way or the other but don’t really know how to express it.  While some may have the opportunity to express their creativity in the outer world many don’t. The purpose of the book is to help people find their own creative streak. There are many places when we are stuck and don’t know how to move ahead or are not comfortable asking for help. The book will help people in different situation by giving them cues and find their groove.”


Mr Sridhar in fact says that the book will be handy for even professionals like doctors, lawyers and even homemakers. In your daily life if you are stuck even for simple things like planning a menu for an evening dinner, the book will give cues on how one can be creative and, with minor variations and combining different things, can come up with an innovative menu.


He concluded, “Most importantly, in today’s corporate world there is a need to be innovative to lead. The person with ideas will move up the ladder at a quicker pace than any other and that’s where this book comes into play. For any ambitious person who wants to succeed, I would suggest he should keep a copy of the book on his laptop.


Click on the image for larger view

Excerpts from the e-book:


Pulling strings in the head

Few things I always do. Look out for interesting and unique stuff while I travel, watch TV,   read, talk with family, watch movies… I register it in my mind (luckily it stays there for ever). 🙂 When my sales team comes with a brand brief, I read a lot about the brand, understand it well  and thereafter,  my mind automatically starts pulling strings from all the available information in my head.


Then…..I get the first spark of an idea… After that I go talk to different people about it, get inputs, shape it, modify it, answer their questions. If I scrap the idea I go back to step 2.


Aparnaa Rajasekar


Helicopter ride in the mind

I remind myself that ideas are everywhere if I choose to look.  I try to take completely unrelated things and try to connect them to the problem. Something I came across in DeBono’s work really struck home with me. Roughly he said, everything can be connected  with everything else. Thinking laterally is like taking a helicopter ride and getting dropped off in an unknown location (unrelated object) and finding your way back home (the problem) by making connections.


Among specific things I do to generate ideas: sleep on the problem and wake up early. I find I am in a great frame of mind at this time. I try to find someone who will listen uninterruptedly so that I can speak aloud, hear myself think. I am able to generate more ideas like this.


I spend time by myself, retreating inwards; I spend time browsing the internet, looking for inspiration; I drive; I talk to my wife; sometimes my dogs; to my dictaphone; to my colleagues at office; to my clients.


Santhan Reddy


Ray of light passing through

Ideas often are often like , a ray of light, it just passes through the mind while doing something totally unconnected. Could be while cooking, drinking coffee, reading a book, taking a walk, reading the newspaper, bathing and very often while on the pot (pardon me saying that).While travelling by car, is another time when ideas flash past. I personally use mind mapping to generate ideas and solutions to complex situations. Invariably I note them down as the thought is lost as we get busy in something else. If I need to generate ideas, thoughts I generally go to a room, sit down, relax and allow thoughts to flow. This is invariably while doing problem solving or looking at multiple options. Bouncing off ideas is with a close friend who will be objective and tell me if i am terribly wrong.


Laila Sethna


Just let it be

I first surf the net for the subject and randomly follow links to related subjects. Almost like immersing myself in the topic. Someone somewhere has always faced a similar problem. I have found from hard experience that its best not to actively think about ideas. Just let it be and sleep over it. Then I talk to some selected people who are good sounding boards about the general subject (NOT ideas). They usually ask me some more questions during the discussion. Again I let all this be in my mind. Ideas then just come to me… sometimes inspired by imminent deadlines.


What not to do (for me)



Active brainstorming – I find this yields superficial and obvious ideas.

Tell people that I am looking for ideas – again people limit their thinking and discussion and come up with the most top of head obvious stuff.

Generate ideas without researching the material.

Pressure myself for “ideas” – just doesn’t work.


What works



Talking to specific people who are able to think and talk at an abstract level – then I manage to find analogies from unrelated areas.

Talking about the subject without a goal in mind.

Talking to my kids – sometimes yields surprising ideas

Surfing, surfing, surfing with broader and broader search terms.

Thinking of the subject when I go to sleep. Often, I wake up with an idea.



Just start writing

I just start writing my ideas. If I wait for ideas to come, they never do. But when I sit down and start writing, then they seem to come out. Writing is usually on the laptop on the iPad.   When writing, I try to structure my thinking. Mind maps help quite a bit.

Suman Srivastava


Excerpted with permission from the writer.

The e-book ‘How to get Ideas’ can be accessed at

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