BRAINFOOD: Your route to the top - Free thinking

BRAINFOOD: Your route to the top - Free thinking - Go for volume. The more ideas, the better. 'The best way to have good ideas is to have lots of ideas,' advised Nobel prize-winning chemist Linus Pauling.

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Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Go for volume. The more ideas, the better. 'The best way to have good ideas is to have lots of ideas,' advised Nobel prize-winning chemist Linus Pauling.

Don't evaluate as you go along. Turning off your internal filters is one of the trickiest parts of creative thinking but one of the most essential.

Once you're on a roll, fresh ideas flow freely. Write all the ideas down as soon as you think of them. Otherwise, like a dream after you wake, they'll be lost for ever.

Make sure other people are up for the journey if you decide to include them in your free thinking, and that you all agree you won't criticise each other as you go along.

Spot the assumptions you make and then break them. Pricing in a restaurant doesn't have to be consistent but could be based on, say, the time of day or the popularity of the dish.

Be contrary. Look at your initial ideas and come up with as many opposites as you can. This is how life assurance that pays out when you're alive was invented, as was diagonal oil drilling.

Use dead time, such as travelling or waiting for someone to arrive, to let your mind wander. Sometimes, the change in surroundings and the time pressure can be valuable stimuli.

Don't expect to generate an answer. If you do so every time, then you are almost certainly not thinking very freely and probably coming up with variations on the same old ideas.

Remember to evaluate. Just because a vision sounds exciting at the end of an awayday doesn't mean that it's the best strategy for your business.

Don't panic if at first you don't seem to be getting anywhere. Relax. Everyone can be creative, given time and calm.

Recreate an environment where you've been able to think freely in the past. Some find a quiet walk helps, others say their best ideas come to them when driving.

Try someone else's perspective when you think about the problem. What would Elvis Presley have done?

The Mind Gym, www.themindgym.com.

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