The simplest definition of something creative is that it is
both NOVEL and USEFUL. Makes sense,
How do you go about being creative and what is the right
approach to brainstorming for ideas? Some
research that has been conducted recently has pointed toward some surprising
suggestions about what most of us think is the best approach.
It seems that when you get everyone into a room and start
spitting out ideas, the quality of that thinking can suffer from a similar
effect we find in focus groups. We stay
within the lines as we tend toward harmonizing not really stretching beyond (or
outside of) the box.
An alternative approach to a brainstorming session is a
slight variation on the process that can have better outcomes.
|Mixing it up|
MIX IT UP: If you
are looking to solve a marketing problem, then you bring together marketing
team members. Right? Nope- wrong. You
need some outsiders in the mix. So
broaden the group to work on the effort including engineers, finance and others
who see the business world from a different perspective.
DEFINE THE PROBLEM:
Define the issue clearly at the first team meeting. Don’t bring the post it
notes and white boards. Just get clarity
about what problem you are trying to solve NOT how to solve it. Stay at the
strategic level. Don’t allow that first meeting to get to solutions; stay
focused on the problem.
INDIVIDUAL IDEATION: Ask each member to come to the next meeting
with a list of solutions that they create on their own. Individuals tend to be
more willing to break out of the box more if they are allowed the freedom to
work privately at first without an urge to blend into the common thinking.
|Rank the ideas|
RANK THE IDEAS: Let each individual present their ideas to
the group and have everyone pick their 3 favorite solutions. Don’t try and build on the ideas yet, just
try to find what concepts emerge as most promising.
|Focus on the top ideas |
FOCUS ON THE TOP
IDEAS: Finally, assemble the team together and build on these top ideas.
Concentrate on brainstorming within these thoughts and see how you can build,
expand or extend the ideas. Discuss and challenge the practical side of
execution of the ideas as well as the costs, time lines and other
parameters. Talk this out but don’t
decide at this meeting what direction to take just yet.
CONVERSATIONS: Have someone scribe
so that you have a clear and well-written outline of each idea, the pros and
cons and how it fits with the problem at hand.
Make sure the team agrees with the spirit of what has been written and
that it represents the conversations that took place.
|Vote in private|
VOTE PRIVATELY: Ask
each team member to pick the number one idea that they would invest their time
and money against. Do this via email or some online voting mechanism so that no
one has to explain themselves in public but can do it privately.
If this is a very important issue you are wrestling with,
you might take your recommendation up one level and present all three concepts
to your boss or a few at a more senior level. Explain the problem you are
trying to solve, explain the three top solutions and provide your
recommendation of how you plan to proceed.
Get buy-in from your boss and don’t ask them to make a decision, but ask
them to weigh in on the recommendation.
Is the solution both novel and useful?
This is still brainstorming but it acknowledges that some colleagues
work better privately and feel more willing to push the envelope when it is anonymous
or not in a group setting. The quality of the ideas that come to the table may
be more disruptive. This is a good thing.
Don’t settle for the obvious solution but use the richness of how others
think and solve problems to get you to a truly creative approach.
I think this is a novel and useful approach. Agree?
Note: Do you know some other creative marketing folks who might enjoy these conversations? Please share my blog with one friend. Thanks.
Labels: brainstorming, creativity, ideation, Marketing Moments