In an increasingly creative-driven world, having the best ideas are essential to getting ahead. Few people know that better than Elon Musk, who recommends coming up with new ideas with the "first principles" method.
The way it works is simple: start with the fundamentals you know to be true and work up from there. While many of us reason by analogy — relating our new ideas to existing things — the first principles method can change your whole approach:
"I think it's important to reason from first principles rather than by analogy. The normal way we conduct our lives is we reason by analogy. [With analogy] we are doing this because it's like something else that was done, or it is like what other people are doing. [With first principles] you boil things down to the most fundamental truths…and then reason up from there."
Most major revolutions that have occurred build on this basic premise. Cars examined the fundamental principles of transportation instead of iterating horse-drawn carriages and smartphones looked at the principles of communication instead of improving dumbphones. While you might not be creating new industries, breaking down whatever project you're working on to simple questions ("What is this project trying to accomplish?") can get you a lot further than trying to make a slight improvement to someone else's system.