Where do ideas come from #1


day, another post about creativity. Except this one from Brandtarot has immediate

provocative, useful and inviting contributions. All good. I loved lots and will plagiarise shamelessly.

A lot of
the work I do now is isolated and isolating. Very different
to a lot of my work in the theatre where I am surrounded by teams who build the
design and development of ideas beyond belief.

I need
prompts like this to halt the slippery slope into formulaic models that produce
tired, formulaic responses. The last thing clients are paying me for.

For me
nothing replaces conversation with others to stimulate ideas. Plus feeding my own creativity by watching, reading, visiting, listening to, experiencing…

Interesting question though. Can you structure
and formalise the process at all? Can you adopt a slightly mechanistic approach to extend exploration
beyond the immediate and obvious?

I totally
agree with the premise of
no hard and fast rules. For me it is about more than company culture.
No two situations are ever the same. Group dynamics, personal politics,
external pressures, degree of response are always variables we can never predict.

All of these would affect what I would do. I am wary of
using any model without adaptation and sensitivity. Obvious I know but you need
to align yourself with what’s happening in the room constantly.

Here are a couple more additional tips that are very

the challenge from someone else’s perspective
. We tend to be surrounded by people
with a very similar world view to ourselves. We may argue about the finer
points of last nights Apprentice or the travesty of Leeds United’s relegation
but on the whole we are pretty similar. What if we approached the challenge
from the view of someone with an oppositional political perspective?  Or a very young child? Or a different point in
history? As the post describes “Homogenous teams come up with predictable

By considering what the perceptions of these people
could be, we add a whole new option of possibilities. Ones that we rarely
imagine or perhaps we have begun to censor or feel uncomfortable with. The
value is where this thinking leads.  This
is very different from a focus group


different media
. Never fails. Be a bit careful- most people get slightly
hung up once the pastels come out and far more preoccupied with their lack of
artistic skills then the ability to use imagery to stimulate ideas. You need a warm
up to democratize drawing.  Different
media (fonts, colours, formats) are linked to different states of consciousness.
Do not sit around a large sheet of paper or an endless word document. Capture
responses as images, random words, blocks of colour etc. Do not worry about presenting
finished ideas. This short circuits options of exploring the rich possibility of where the right side of our brain could take us.

There are hundreds more.


I would always avoid unstructured discussion. It is rarely
productive and a lot of time is not about the development of
ideas but around finding reasons to block.  There are
lots of sensory exercises to heighten awareness I would do in silence or suggest
a range of music/sound as an underscore.

They all get us out of our head – in the best possible way.

Any exploration needs boundaries, a clear objective
and speed or we loose concentration.

But these
are merely words on paper. Delivery is all. You have to lift them.  I work hard to inspire an atmosphere where people feel able to take
risks. This has taken years of experience, skill and constant reflection.
Getting it wrong loads and learning from why we never delivered.  It also requires energy, presence and an
understanding of creating possibilities that afford everyone equal space and time
to contribute.

It isn’t
just keeping the ball in the air. It’s ensuring everyone has an opportunity to
hit it as well.

I would be
fascinated to see how these tools
(horrible word- sorry-
can’t think of a better one right now)
suggested by Brandtarot  work in practice.

BTW- my
absolute favourite but of the post
 Early on you need a lot of ideas (100),
later you should work up (7), these then condense into 3 broad options. These
are always the numbers – eg in the case of 3 it is a choice (2 is a dilemma, 1
a compulsion), in the case of 7 that’s how many items people can remember from
a list.

Excellent suggestion

A thought. Perhaps Naked’s research refers to Ken Robinson’s
thinking that we have creativity educated out of us. Getting it back takes practice.
We’ve also lost the confidence to be open with our ideas.



12th May, 2007