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Six things you can do other than a brainstorm to get ideas

Six things you can do other than a brainstorm to get ideas

I hate brainstorms. Or thought showers. Or idea wangs. Or whatever we call the pointless activity of gathering every single person in the agency in a room for an hour of mindless chatter.

It’s not that I don’t value other people’s opinion or ideas. My career has been propped up by the incredible creative power of my team and colleagues.

I just think that brainstorms are the laziest way to try and extract ideas and in the end you’re not left with particularly good results.

So, I have been on a mission of late, working with various teams across the Hotwire family to get them thinking of a more useful creative process.

Here’s what we’ve been working on

  • Ditch the brief and ask a question: To ask people to walk into a room, hear a long winded brief and then generate useful ideas is ridiculous. Instead, the person wanting to extract the ideas should do the leg work to distill the brief into a set of useful, simple, questions. These questions should be concise enough to be easily understood, but detailed enough to be relevant to the overall objective
  • Get inspiration first: It doesn’t matter if this is done in a couple hours or a few weeks. Sharing the questions with teams ahead of time and then encouraging people to seek inspiration from specific areas will enable more useful ideas to be generated. Go out, read, watch, listen, absorb — get inspired
  • Show and tell (argue): This is the bit that gets close to what we recognise as a brainstorm. Everyone involved in the creative process thus far comes ‘back into the room’ and shares their most powerful source of inspiration and the concept they developed off the back of it. Then it’s important to ditch the ego and argue it out. Look for patterns in each concept, take the good bits, and exclude the shit bits.
  • Develop a prototype: Select the individuals that contributed to the good bits of the show and tell and work with them to develop the idea into a concept complete with a red thread that links back to the objective. This might sound dismissive of everyone else involved in the process, but you’re after a workable idea, not a democracy. They’ll get over it and welcome the time back in their diaries
  • Test the test concept: Present the idea to people who’ve not been involved. Remember, you’ll be showcasing this creative genius to a room full of strangers that need to ‘get it’ in minutes. Gather the feedback from the test audience and focus in on the comments that relate to the elegance of the concept or the ease of understanding the primary message
  • Refine: Don’t ignore the feedback. Do something with it. If it means starting the process again then do so, but don’t for one moment sit back and think that it’s the audience’s fault for not understanding your idea. It’s yours. Deal with it.
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