Take five minutes to list all the uses you can think of for a brick. (Pause for five minutes. Write your list.) How many items do you have on your list?

I’ve done that exercise with groups of small business owners. Some get 30 and even 40 items, some only 10 or 20. And the point of the exercise is that creativity comes from quantity of ideas, not quality of ideas. Weed out the bad ones later. When it’s time to come up with new ideas, make a long list first. The longer, the better.

I was reminded of this by BNET‘s “The Top 10 Catalysts for Great Ideas”:

  1. When you’re inspired
  2. Brainstorming with others
  3. When you’re immersed in a project
  4. When you’re happy
  5. Collaborating with a partner
  6. Daydreaming
  7. Analyzing a problem
  8. Driving
  9. Commuting to and from work
  10. Reading books in your field

Which is then nicely complemented by LifeDev‘s “15 widespread creativity myths”:

  1. Creative people are weird.
  2. Putting a bunch of people together in a large room will produce creative ideas.
  3. Only creative people have creative ideas.
  4. Deadlines spark creativity.
  5. Competition is better than collaboration.
  6. Creatives are Messy.
  7. Structure is bad for creative thinking.
  8. An idea WILL come in one sitting.
  9. Creativity requires high-level thinking.
  10. The only motivator[s] for creative thinking [are] money and fear.
  11. Ridiculous ideas are worthless.
  12. Only certain jobs use creativity.
  13. Creative people always have great ideas.
  14. I’ll never forget my ideas.
  15. More and better technology will yield more and better ideas.

Interesting, do you agree?

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.