Letting ideas incubate

January 7, 2015 by Brian Parks

Growing up, I loved MacGyver. No matter what he was faced with, he was a symbol of resourcefulness and calm resilience. The guy could do anything.

I guess that’s why when I stumbled on this presentation from MacGyver creator Lee David Zlotoff, I took a few minutes to check it out. Turns out, I really like the creator of MacGyver too.

What would MacGyver do?

As a creative, Lee really had to hone his process for baking ideas — a process he calls “The Yurika Method” — which was partially inspired by the way McGyver’s character used ingenuity to solve problems.

You see, as a TV writer, Lee had to crank out enormous amounts of creative material in very short periods of time. He found that the best ideas came to him when he was driving or taking a shower. (I’m the same way. I’ve got a ton of memos to myself from the car for this exact reason.)

Lee’s inspiration wasn’t happening at the keyboard — it was coming, as he describes it, when he could have an active dialogue between his conscious and his subconscious.

Using incubation to let the subconscious take over.

For Lee, allowing time for incubation is the most important part of tapping into our problem-solving subconscious — and it really struck with me and how we work here at GasPedal.

We think and talk a lot about the way we work and how we can work better. We share productivity hacks, read books like The Checklist Manifesto, and we document everything. But whether its a big strategic decision or the wording on a blog post, one of the most important things we do when we’re stumped is walk away. We put it down.

Got a problem you can’t figure out the answer to? Do something else. Take a walk. Make a pot of French press coffee (we make a lot of French press coffee — but that’s for another post). Come back to the problem later, maybe even in a few days. Let the subconscious supercomputer work at the problem for a bit and then come back and look at it with fresh eyes.

Amazing ideas take time to bake. Incubation is important.

See how Lee explains it here:

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