Innovation is key to taking a business forward, but there are no quick fixes when it comes to finding the strongest and most commercially viable ideas. A creative session – brainstorming and beyond – is needed, no matter what the size of the project. The starting point may be different, but the same upfront thinking and team work will be necessary on any scale of project, for it to be a success.
Begin with a brainstorm
We find brainstorming is a good kickstart for a creative session, but the hard creative work is done afterwards. There are dozens of different games and techniques you can use for a brainstorm, to generate thousands of permutations and answers to a problem. Just remember it is quantity not quality that you’re going for. The idea is to generate an enormous quantity of ideas that you can then filter down, so don’t let it get bogged down by detail. Start by asking the team to suspend judgment sense, then record every thought that is suggested.
We find it works well when everyone knows each other. I have run several workshops on this and the best results are always from confident teams players who know each other and who are from varied disciplines.
Keep the ideas rolling
Once the initial brainstorming session is over the hard work begins. We start by using a roll of lining paper and take a thread from the brainstorm session and start developing it in small teams of no more than four people, ideally from different disciplines.
We keep unrolling the paper as we come up with ideas and solutions, and it creates a timeline and ideas flow. This is then cut up to fit on one of the many magnetic boards we have on the studio walls and the end goal and problems associated with achieving it are identified.
Making an idea commercially viable
The hardest part of the process is taking the ideas generated and making them a commercially viable option. For this part of the process we look at all the tasks and research we need to do to make sure it is a feasible concept. Each team member takes ownership of specific tasks off the list and it is their duty to solve them, which can either be done on their own or in pairs. Importantly every team member knows the end goal. And so we begin to join the dots!
An important element of this process is to make sure that each team member knows and understands the big picture, when they are solving their own tasks. This means they are aware of the influence that their part may have on another team member and so naturally a dialogue will open between them. We thought we were quite special in doing this approach but actually all the good teams do it! It is a method which was studied in the 60’s by American George Prince – a process he went on to coin as ‘synectics’.
We encourage individual research on the web and make sure we then collate the results. One way to do this is to start a Microsoft One Note page that every team member can access. Encourage the team to cut and paste articles and pictures into One Note when they come across them online. In the same way you can create boards on Pinterest to collate links and ideas that the team has seen.
Steering the project
It is important to have someone steering the creative process throughout. As the team coordinator I will set the deadlines and love to watch the studio walls and online boards start to fill up with references and team comments. I can then steer the project using this bank of information.
And the result..
So what do you have at the end of this process? Simply put – the best idea. Normally this will be the one that is the most simple to use and understand and the most unique solution. It will be the one that can be backed up with comprehensive reasoning and research, and the idea that the whole team believes in. Importantly, it will also be the one that is the most commercially viable and likely to succeed.