1. Define your problem. What exactly are you trying to do? Exactly! What would the solution look like or be like? Can you visualize the problem once it has been solved?
2. Do the research. How have others solved this kind of problem? How have my villains solved this problem? How have my heroes solved it? How did you like the way they solved it? Was it effective? How could it change? What can be discovered about the individual aspects of the problem? Research Options.
3. Try some solutions. Write ideas down in very simple words, or in layout ideas, and post them on a wall.
4. Show them to someone. Invite others to talk about your solutions. Use your thinking in step 1. to evaluate their comments.
5. Forget about it. This is the most important step. Take some time off from the problem; even if its only to walk around the block. Keep the problem "around!" I sometimes put something that reminds me of the problem in my pocket until...
6. Eureka! When you least expect it, the solution will come to you. Problems are solved in the subconscious. When you relax about a problem, but still have every intention of solving it, the subconscious goes to work. This is why you hear about great ideas coming to people in the shower or while driving: The conscious half of your mind is busy staying on the road; the subconscious half is whirring away on your problem. "You can lead a brain to the problem, but you can't make it think!" This is why Time is the most valuable commodity in the advertising agency business.
7. Test or recycle. See if your solution solves the problem the way you wanted to solve it. If it doesn't, that could be OK. It could be that your subconscious redefined the problem in some way. Think about this. Now! If you haven't solved the problem, there is only one reason. You haven't defined the problem well enough. Think about this and redefine the problem.
Test your problem definition by writing it out like this:
I want to convince (whom?) ___________________
to (do what?) __________________
instead of (what?) _____________
because (what reason?) ______________________.