Book Summary: A Technique For Producing Ideas by James Webb Young

by Sunelle | Last Updated: 16/05/2021

Several people recommended the book titled ‘A Technique for Producing Ideas – The Simple Five Step Formula Anyone Can Use to Be More Creative in Business and in Life!’ by James Webb Young. The concept of creating new ideas fascinates me. So many factors influence the development of new ideas or concepts.

This is not a long book, and I finished it quickly. I found a few gems in the book, which were included in my book summary below.

Book notes: A Technique For Producing Ideas

Pareto divided people into two types:

  1. Speculators: These are speculative people preoccupied with the possibilities of new combinations.
  2. Rentiers (French): These people like routine and are steady, unimaginative and conserving people. Speculators often manipulate rentiers.


When learning new things, you need to understand:

  1. Principles
  2. Method

Creative people

Creative people have two unique characteristics:

  1. They quickly get interested in different topics as the different facets of life fascinates them.
  2. They browse information in various fields. 

How to create an idea

You can use the principles you have learned to improve your skill in producing ideas. An idea newly combines old elements, but to combine old elements into new ideas, you need the ability to see relationships between elements. Seeking relationships between facts is critical in producing new ideas and is a habit we need to cultivate in our minds. Creating an idea has these stages:

A technique for producing ideas - James Webb Young

Gathering material 

The mind needs to gather raw materials, of which there are two types:

An idea newly combines specific knowledge (about products and people) and general knowledge (about life and events). By masticating these materials, you can build a sourcebook of ideas. You take different bits of materials you have collected and experiment with them in your mind. When you take a fact, consider it from different angles to determine its meaning. You do this with several facts and see if they can fit together.  

Conscious processing in your mind

Small tentative, or partial ideas, will come to your mind. Write them down, even if they seem incomplete or irrational. These may foreshadow an actual idea that may come later. After some time, you will enter the hopeless stage where your mind is confused and lacks logical insights. 

Incubating stage

In the third stage, you don’t make any direct efforts. You forget about the topic and try not to think of it consciously. Your unconscious mind will now digest the problem while you do other things. It will synthesise the idea with additional information in your mind.

4. The birthing of the idea

The idea will disappear after your unconscious mind has completed its processing. 

5. Shaping and developing the idea

Now that the idea has materialised, you need to bring it into the world of reality. It takes patience to process the idea to ensure it meets the exact conditions under which it must work. Many ideas may get lost here. Do not keep your ideas to yourself; instead, submit them to the criticism of others. When you do this, a good idea will exhibit self-expanding qualities by stimulating those who see it and who will add their views to improve the concept. Others will now identify the possibilities you overlooked. 

A technique for producing ideas - James Webb Young

How to get better at producing ideas

By constantly expanding your experience and knowledge, you can become better at producing ideas. Words are also ideas, although they may be in a state of suspended animation. When you master words, ideas will materialise. Therefore, since words are symbols of ideas, we collect ideas as we collect words.