Book Summary: 21 Days To A Big Idea

"The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas," said Linus Pauling, a two-time Nobel Laureate.

There are basic but effective creative thinking strategies that can help groups release their creative potential and produce "many ideas."

But what if you don't have access to a group? Bryan Mattimore's 21 Days to a Big Idea thinking method is meant to help people generate a big number of ideas regularly... from which one or two may turn out to be the "Big Idea!"

The curriculum is broken into four phases over 21 days:

  • Finding your passion
  • Five creative thinking strategies for finding idea opportunities
  • Nine innovative techniques for generating big ideas
  • Selecting and developing the best ideas

The program will be completed over twenty-one days by committing roughly an hour of creative thinking time each day. However, it is not required to be done on consecutive days.

It doesn't even have to be taken by itself. It's simple to start a "big idea club" with coworkers, friends, or family and meet once or twice a month when you have an hour to spare.

To begin, you'll need a diary (your "Big Idea" notebook) to keep track of your thoughts. This will help you keep track of all the ideas during the program's creativity activities.

Day #1: Discovering Your Inventive Passion

A male walking through a smiling cloud and flowers as he follows his passion.

Consider how you want to feel when you've finished reading this book synopsis. What are your thoughts going to be? What will you be able to take away from it? Be as precise as possible.

Take a minute now to consider "a success footprint" for a new project you'd want to develop.

Before you even know what that successful concept is, identify the elements that would make it a fantastic idea! You might wonder:

  • "How much could my concept be worth?"
  • "To whom is it most likely to appeal?"
  • "What do you think the largest advantage is?"
  • "How, when, and where could it work?"

Building a successful footprint for an idea you haven't yet created will help you assess the relative worth of the new ideas you do develop. And it will also help you judge the relative value of the new ideas you do generate.

It will also assist you in persevering until you discover that one great concept that satisfies your initial "success footprint" criteria.

Day #2: Courting Your Passion

Make a list of potential sectors for new goods, services, or company concepts that you're interested in. Make an effort to write down at least 30.

Creating so many "passion domains" will assist in expanding the realm of creative possibilities. Are you interested in developing:

  • a new children's toy or game,
  • a home product or tool,
  • a new service for artists or a non-profit to assist seniors,
  • international travel purchasing service, or
  • a commuter time saver?

Day #3: Finding the Right Stimuli

Consider how you can take your concept to the next level by asking yourself, "What will make my idea stand out from and outperform what's currently on the market?"

Day #4: What's Your Problem? The First of Five Creative Thinking Strategies

Find a problem that you'd want to fix. Since we all know that quantity drives quality, try to come up with twenty distinct issues.

Day #5: Solving Problems… and Finding New Ones

A female thinking of problems and finding the solution to the problem.

Now, try to think of some answers for your twenty issues. Occasionally addressing one problem issue may assist you in resolving another.

Day #6: Adapt an Existing Idea or Technology

Choose one or more innovative technologies that pique your interest. Make a list of at least twenty of its capabilities, characteristics, points of differentiation, and/or advantages.

Then, to establish a new product or service concept, integrate it with one of your interests or passions.

An Israeli entrepreneur, for example, has developed a low-cost, waterproof bicycle built nearly entirely of carefully treated, extra-strong cardboard.

What additional innovations might you come up with if you used this type of cardboard?

Day #7: Save Money, Save Time

A time management table as each day focuses on doing a task to save time.

Make a list of things that waste time or money at work or in your personal life. Choose one or two of these time or money wasters and create a new product or service to address them.

Day #8: Facilitate Self-Actualization

Watch online talks, seminars, or YouTube videos by professionals in one of your areas of interest.

Make at least one big idea for new products and services that would assist individuals "self-actualize" based on what you see, hear, and discover.

Day #9: Wishing for the Impossible… and then Making It Real

We've been taught to be realistic. Adults, on the other hand, can achieve breakthroughs by recapturing their limitless childhood creativity. Make a wish list of at least twenty items. Push past the bland and reasonable and dream of the unimaginable.

Then, when you go through your list, ask yourself, "Is there a want that might spark a game-changing new concept if I could make it a reality?"

Day #10: Three Ideas in Thirty Minutes: The Questioning Assumptions Technique

Questioning Assumptions is a strategy for finding fresh ideas by challenging our assumptions about everything in our environment. If we query the premise that a chair has four legs, we can come up with the concept of a "no-legged" or beanbag chair.

Pick a topic that interests you and make a list of at least fifteen assumptions about it. Then, by challenging these assumptions, come up with three fresh product or service concepts.

Day 11: 20 Questions, One Big Idea

A female riding on a lightbulb hot air balloon (showing a solution is found) as she throws the questions out of the box.

Make a list of twenty questions to help you consider your creative problem from a new perspective.

Use prompts like:

  • "How can ___,"
  • "What are ___,"
  • "How about ___,"
  • "If ____."

You could find that by asking and answering questions, you come up with a new idea.

Day #12: Expecting the Connecting: The "And" Technique

Combine a word that reflects an area of great interest for you with words you find by opening a dictionary to random pages to create five new goods or business concepts.

The majority of new ideas are born by the simple act of mixing two previously unrelated items in a novel way.

Day #13: Smart Move: Benefit Word Mashing

Create a "big idea" in a field of interest by combining one of the benefit modifiers listed below:

  • clever/thinking
  • speed/quick
  • informative
  • educational
  • healthy
  • online
  • electronic
  • advanced
  • mobile
  • expanding/growing

What is a "smart" object, for example:

  • a ball,
  • a cooking utensil,
  • a navigation app,
  • a bike,
  • a lock, or
  • a fork?

Day #14: Transformation Transfer: The Idea Hooking and Patent Prompting

A laptop containing the list of patent listings to help generate new ideas.

The Patent Prompts Technique might help you come up with a fresh idea by evaluating a wide range of new innovations and technologies that are all connected. Here's how it works:

  • Choose a design or engineering challenge for one of the latest innovations you've come up with thus far.
  • Try to condense the task down into two words.
  • Use these two key terms to search the US Patent and Trademark Office databases.

Look for ideas by scrolling through the patent listings that show up when you do a search.

Hopefully, by researching comparable inventions and technologies, you may discover ideas and mechanisms of action that you can utilize. Thus, you can generate more and better ideas of your own (without, of course, infringing the original patent).

Day #15: Getting Hotter All the Time: Trend Bending

Continue to seek out diverse stimuli that will activate your natural capacity to form connections. Apply Internet trend reports to determine if you can "bend the trend" to a particular area of interest.

You could find a new business opportunity by asking the "who, what, when, where, why, and how" of each trend.

Day #16: Saving the Worst for Last

To employ the Worst Idea approach, start by making a list of the worst ideas you can come up with in a certain field. These concepts should be absurd, improper, and silly. After you've made this list, check if you can change these bad ideas into good ones by doing one of two things:

  • doing the exact opposite.
  • utilizing this bad idea to inspire a good one by changing it in some manner.

Day #17: Final Exam: Bringing It All Together

A brain with research, maintenance, build, and launch - combining it to generate ideas.

To generate at least three wholly new big ideas in one of your areas of interest, combine the strategies discussed over the last eight days:

  • Wishing
  • Questioning Assumptions
  • Twenty Questions
  • the "And" Technique
  • Idea Hooks
  • Trend Bending
  • Patent Prompts
  • Worst Idea Technique

Choosing, Developing, and Selling Your Biggest Ideas

Now that you've generated a plethora of big ideas over the last seventeen days, it's time to start turning them into commercial proposals for new goods and/or services.

Day #18: A Simple Concept Development Technique: Billboarding

By assisting you in identifying the idea's primary benefits, billboarding allows you to develop a form of "elevator speech" for your new product or service.

In the Billboard Technique, you'll create a headline, a picture, and a tagline for your new concept, just like a billboard you'd see on the road.

The steps are as follows:

  • Determine the nature of your idea. Consider how it would operate in practice and give it a name.
  • Make a list of all the advantages of the concept. You must be able to generate five or six ideas.
  • Choose the most essential advantage from your list and write a succinct headline that explains it. It doesn't have to be smart, but it should be concise.
  • Create a picture that expresses the principal value of your concept or one of its primary qualities.
  • Make a slogan that explains why someone should believe in your concept.

This activity will help you be precise about the benefits of your concept so that you can express them to others clearly and simply.

Day #19: Researching and Developing Your Favorite Ideas

A female research and developing her favourite ideas with great depth.

You don't have to spend a lot of money on focus groups to get valuable information about your idea's commercial potential.

Begin by conducting informal interviews with friends, family, and coworkers. You may also do market research for a cheap or free cost through non-profits, schools or universities, or local groups. Just make sure your research questions are meant to teach rather than to "sell" your viewpoint.

Create prototypes, even primitive ones, to acquire more insights from your investigation. When you give someone something particular to react to, it's a lot easier for them to tell you what they enjoy and don't like.

Day #20: Business Building Techniques: Let's Get Visual

Make a Creative War Room to help you produce your finest ideas. You may visualize and arrange all the components of your big idea in one location by using a whiteboard, corkboard, or a full wall.

Consider your Creative War Room to be a resource for both creative problem-solving and project prioritization. Fill your idea wall with anything from prototype drawings to potential names, as well as PR and advertising campaigns and new sales techniques.

Putting your big idea in a physical area can help you make it more real and produce more practical ideas.

Day #21: Generating Selling Concepts: The Opportunity Redefinition Technique

A male innovator selling his product by using online ads and placing it on an e-commerce site.

The way you intend to advertise and sell your product or service might be just as important as the concept itself. The Opportunity Redefinition approach aids in the creation of innovative new sales programs by defining:

  • who is selling,
  • how they are selling, and
  • to whom they are selling.

Simply generate a range of alternative "who's," "how's," and "to "whom" – and then recombine these phrases to create a new selling approach.

For example, you may have believed that your product would be sold by a typical salesperson, but might the "who" be:

  • a customer
  • a buddy
  • a freelancer
  • an international agent

Maybe you thought telemarketing would be "how" you'd sell your goods, but it might be:

  • demos in person
  • late-night TV commercials
  • co-marketing
  • Google key terms
  • as a premium

...and so on.

Perhaps you even believed you'd be marketing your goods to retirees rather than:

  • physicians
  • medics
  • healthcare companies
  • a government organization
  • medical students
  • retirees' children


You just start mixing and matching elements from each list – three at a time – to construct hundreds of unique marketing techniques literally once you have these lists.

For instance, how can we persuade a broker to promote our new service to children of retirees using Google keywords?

With all the ideas outlined in 21 Days to a Big Idea, you'll always feel like you can come up with that next big concept... and your life!

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