Michèle Leaman

Michèle works with faculty, administrators, and students to change complex institutional systems to become more supportive environments for social entrepreneurship and changemaking.

Ideas for Generating Ideas

Originally posted on Change Insight by Laura Zax.

So, you know you want to be a social entrepreneur.  But do you know how to come up with your big idea?

[…] Students in the Compass Fellowship–a program I co-founded that sets first-year students on the path toward being social entrepreneurs–have begun conceptualizing their social business ventures.  They’re kicking around interesting, new ways to create financially-sustainable businesses that can tip the social impact scale. I’ve had the honor of hearing some of those ideas near the time of their conception. But I’ve noticed a pattern – for the Compass Fellows whose initial ideas haven’t given them that burning desire they hoped for or for the ones who have remained in the search, the same question has come up time and time again: “What is the best way to approach idea generation?” […]


Here are five things to consider:


•    Self-reflect – you are looking for that sweet spot where your passions, talents and abilities meet an existing need. The first step in mastering that is understanding yourself and taking the time to reflect.
•    Step outside your comfort zone –escaping your normal routine and experiencing new things produces the perfect backdrop for idea generation – you are more likely to look at things differently, notice things you haven’t before and feel that ‘spark’ you’re looking for.
•    Write everything down – this allows you to store and revisit everything you’ve come up with. It’s important not to be picky with what you record, though – this limits the possibilities.
•    Constantly review your earlier ideas – this gives you a chance to organize, combine and prioritize all of your thinking. More than anything it gives you the opportunity to expand upon ideas with strong potential.
•    Surround yourself with the right people – perhaps one of the most crucial aspects of this process is the sounding boards you line up. You want to surround yourself with people who are both encouraging and constructive – these shouldn’t be people shoot your idea down prematurely nor people who blindly endorse everything you propose.

This post was submitted by Arthur Woods.  He is a Co-Founder of Compass Partners, a social business incubator with fellowship programs for college students dedicated to training social entrepreneurs across the country.  Learn more about Compass Partners here.