Our mind keeps working every hour, every minute, every second. We are still not able to measure the speed of the thought. The world of thoughts is amazing. Once you get into your head, it is such a maze inside that you might never be able to find the escape route. You might have experience it for yourself how one moment you are thinking about a certain topic and in the very next moment you find yourself musing about something else. In a layman's language we call it "distraction" or "lack of focus". But these are terms which require an external help to happen. So how does this distraction happens while we are in our head and nothing from the outside world is distracting us?
The answer to same lies in simple observation. Close your eyes, relax your mind and start thinking about something. Taking my example here, I start with the picture of a light house in the middle of the sea, my wallpaper. Now as soon as I start thinking about this picture thousands of related pictures spur in my mind. Only few of these are present in our conscious mind, rest all are the part of our unconscious mind. Like this picture brought me the picture of my recent Diu trip, Scenes from Shutter Island the Movie, Names on the sand written by me, Parts of Lemony Snicket… movie and so on. The wonder is, all these images stays in our mind together. (We are still to contemplate what is the maximum capacity of these images which can stay in our mind and for how long). Now if I were to imagine a story weaving a plot around the picture on my wallpaper it might become a bit of a problem for me concentrate on the same because it is too easy to switch to any of the other appeared image in my mind, whose story I have to just remember out of my memory.
To put in simpler words. Our memory work in dots (Almost like a frames of a movie). At each dot several other related thoughts are brought upon the thought table. Now generally we pick one of these thought trail and keep joining just one set of thoughts. These set of chosen thoughts is again generally the ones with least effort i.e. beliefs, recently thought/listened/heard, memories/experiences etcetera. In this manner we kill the potential of other possible ideas which were surrounding the particular thought. This way we miss out on common sense and fail to think out of box. This could also speak for the reason why the out-of-the-box thinking is instinctual rather than process oriented.
So, for the process of idea generation an inverse policy could work. Where instead of working in frame by frame manner… we can try thinking in cluster manner. With every dot, write down the cluster around it and with the every dot of the cluster repeat the same process. It can surely give amazing results.