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Ideas on Demand

You don't have to wait for inspiration.

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This story appears in the April 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

You've heard the stories about how chance, an accident or a mistake led to valuable inventions-penicillin, Velcro and Post-It Notes are just a few. But you don't have to rely on fate to provide inspiration. You can create conditions that spark new ideas any time by using creativity techniques such as the novel prompt.

Once you've clarified the ideas you're looking for-say, a spinoff of a highly successful product or ideas for a new ad campaign-introduce a novel and unlikely prompt as a catalyst for the free association of ideas. After you generate lots of ideas, sort and refine them into practical and innovative actions.

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