A guy named James Webb Young, a copywriter from the 1940s, laid out a five-step process of idea generation that holds water today.
1. You gather as much information on the problem as you can. You read, you underline stuff, you ask questions, you visit the factory.
2. You sit down and actively attack the problem.
3. You drop the whole thing and go do something else while your subconscious mind works on the problem.
4 . “Eureka!”
5. You figure out how to implement your idea.