I recently shared a story with our creative staff about my first life-drawing class in art school. I remember being so nervous about working with the class’s nude model. I had no idea if I’d be able to concentrate or if I’d simply turn into some red-faced goof.
At the start of the class, the professor challenged us to sketch as many poses as we could, as quickly as possible. And I’m always up for a good challenge. So, the model dropped her robe…and my pencil started flying. With each pose, my drawings actually got better. I wasn’t thinking about the nudity. And I wasn’t turning into a red-faced goof, either.
This was a pivotal insight: Without time for ego or judgment, the goof in our brains goes silent and good things bubble up. Over the years, I’ve been able to prove, time and time again, that the fast stream-of-consciousness iterations I produced back then works for nearly every creative endeavor (nudity optional) that I experience with my team today.
Quantity breeds quality
It doesn’t matter if you’re sketching a nude, creating an ad, designing a website or writing a tweet, cranking out more and analyzing less may be a huge boost to your creative process.
So your first ideas may not be great. They may, in fact, be total garbage. But once you clear away those initial thoughts, you start to make connections. That’s how brainstorming works – tapping into the creative chaos, free of analytical thought, helps us find new and unexpected solutions to creative problems.
But brainstorming isn’t an easy process. It’s tough to just “let go,” which is why this approach can result in a creative gold mine just as easily as a time-wasting disaster.
Five ground rules
If you’re planning a creative brainstorm with your team, keep these five simple tips in mind. When applied properly, they can radically increase your productivity and the quality of results:
- Start with a specific objective: Never go into a brainstorming session without a clear idea of what you want out of it. And make sure everyone at the table knows it. (In our biz, it’s typically conveyed through a creative brief.) Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for a ginormous waste of time.
- Champion the ridonkulous: Refinement comes later. For now, just get the ideas out. As many as you can. Times two. No matter how crazy they may seem. You can always cut the ones that aren’t up to snuff later.
- Don’t judge: The more people, the more connections possible. But everyone has to play by the same rules. Never say “no, but” and always say “yes, and” in order to share, blend and extend good ideas into killer ones.
- Shake things up: Always bring in at least one person who doesn’t “belong.” Without all the project’s background (aka baggage), this outsider can provide a different perspective and, hopefully, some off-the-wall ideas to spark even more.
- Set an aggressive time limit: A little pressure never hurt. A sense of urgency can help you build momentum and find your flow. Just be sure to save time at the end to evaluate your ideas. Or, even better, schedule a follow-up session.
If you need someone to help facilitate the process, you can always call in a pro. WhiteSpace has plenty of creative minds that have experience – and truly enjoy – helping teams tap into hidden wells of creativity. Or you can always sign up for your own life-drawing class where you too can learn life-long lessons like how to generate ideas fast – and not turn into red-faced goof in front of a lady (I’m still working on that one...LOL).
What about you? Do you have a favorite brainstorm technique? A time-trusted tip? An amped approach? Like I’ve said, the more ideas, the better.
Check out these related blog posts: