In January, my ad of the month was all about mums. In February it’s about dads. This is a lovely execution from Colman’s about how food is the expression of love. Hear, hear.
So, you’re the facilitator of a creative workshop. It’s the beginning of the day, you’re standing in front of a group of people and your job is to get everybody to come up with lots of great ideas. So how do you do it? Here’s a few suggestions.
1 Create trust
People will only generate new ideas if they feel comfortable with the people around them and if they confident that their ideas are going to be listened to. You can do this by:
(a) ensuring everyone who comes has the opportunity to contribute. Don’t let a few people dominate proceedings and encourage everyone to join in.
(b) making sure ideas are not judged or criticised too early, so the session gets some momentum.
As all sports teams know, we respond well to encouragement. Your job is to give people lots of positive feedback. If you hear a great idea, tell them. If people need help, suggest some ways forward. If you hear a brilliant idea, clap and cheer and encourage others to join in.
If you feel people aren’t quite on top of their game or giving their best, then don’t be afraid to push harder. If you think the ideas are so-so, sometimes it’s good to tell people. If you can see ways the ideas could be improved then suggest them. Be careful as you don’t want to demotivate people, so do so in a positive spirit. However, it’s important to maximise the brainpower at your disposal.
4 Mess around
Idea generation should feel playful, so make there’s space and time to have a bit of a laugh. This could be via the creative exercises, playing games and encouraging light-hearted interventions. The more relaxed people feel, then the more ideas they’ll generate.
5 Celebrate the idea generators
If certain individuals have come up with a great idea, then make sure they – or their team – is publicly acknowledged. It may encourage others to raise their game too. Be aware of creating jealousy, but a bit of healthy competition is no bad thing
6 Choose the right creative tools and techniques
People need help to generate new ideas – hence the use of creative tools and techniques. Firstly, make sure you include them in your session as they really do encourage people to think differently. Secondly choose the right ones. There’s so many to choose from, so make they’re tailored to suit the topic you’re working on. Thirdly, use a variety of techniques that attack the brief from different perspectives.
People feel relaxed and confident in the session if they know where they’re heading. So, don’t forget to tell keep telling people why you’re asking them to do certain tasks, what they’ve just done and what the next stage will be.
And finally remember its not about you its about them. Even though you’re in charge of the session, suppress your ego. Don’t showboat or proclaim your brilliance. Your job is to be a great supporter, to get the very best out of others the workshop.
It’s so true. The success of your holiday does hinge upon that moment you enter your hotel.
One of the biggest new categories to emerge over the past year or so is wearable technology, with a whole range of new products being launched including Google Glass, Fitbit, Nike+Fuelband. One of the most popular is the GoPro video camera, that you attach to yourself whilst doing an activity such as snowboarding, cycling, sailing. It was used a lot during the Winter Olympics.
There’s loads of videos on Youtube showing the GoPro in action, but I guess one of the most mesmerising was the video taken of Felix Baumgartner’s free fall from the edge of space last year. Here’s the full story. Still makes me feel giddy watching it now.
‘Originality is nothing but judicious imitation’
This is one of my favourite quotes as it encapsulates how the creative process works. Essentially, generating new ideas is all about voyeurism and theft – searching for existing ideas and then adapting them to create something new. But where do you look for inspiration and who do you steal from?
1 Look Backwards
Another great quote
‘He who cannot draw on 3 000 years is living from hand to mouth’
The most obvious start point it to learn from the past. You can do this in lots of ways
(a) Study and imitate your heroes. This is what all great musicians, artists, writers, fashion designers, film directors always do. Read any biography and you’ll see that they started out studying and copying the past masters. The Beatles were inspired by Elvis and Little Richard. Picasso was inspired by Cezanne.
(b) Study successful product and service ideas from the past and try to update them for a modern age. For example the Sony Walkman was invented in 1979 and become the template for the iPod which was launched in 2001. Wikipedia replicated the need for encyclopaedias. Go to London’s Design Museum if you get the chance. It’s a great source of inspiration.
2 Look Forwards
This means being sensitive to what’s new and emergent, so you can catch the latest trends and be ahead of the curve. So how to do you do this?
(a) Talk to people who you consider to be influential and experts in their field and seek their opinion e.g. technology experts, scientists, journalists
(b) Observe what’s happening in ‘leading edge’ cultures e.g. fashionable districts of cities, music venues, art galleries
(c) Read avidly. There’s so much published nowadays from trend spotting websites, magazines and blogs that collate and proffer opinion on what’s new and interesting. Popular sites are trendwatching and springwise.
This way you’ll be able to keep fresh and current in your idea generation.
3 Look Sideways
This means reviewing and learning from what’s happening in adjacent categories or different worlds. You can do this in lots of ways. For example:
(a) review a category / business / brand that is dealing with a similar problem to yours and observe how they’ve dealt with it. For example, if your issue is ‘improving customer service’ learn from how other people have done it well. Zappo’s would be great place to start. If your task is appealing to a specific target audience, review how other brands in completely different categories target them successfully.
(b) steal from a very different category or world and adapt it to your own. For example personal care brand Lush, learnt how to present their soap and personal care products by learning from fresh food deli counters.
(c) observe and adapt ideas from different cultures. Restaurants, food writers and food brands do this all time, by mixing and matching ingredients and recipes from different cuisines. (I’d love to try a cronut).Interior designers do this by adding style cues from other cultures.
(d) go back to nature. Take inspiration from the natural world, which has often worked out how to solve problems. For example in 1948 velcro was invented when a mountaineer on a walk observed how burrs from plants stuck to the fur of his dog.
Ideas are everywhere. You’ve just got to know where look for them.
It’s really hard to create a viral hit. It’s even rarer to create 2 of them
4 years ago, Evian brought out it’s Roller Babies ad, which last time I looked had over 73 million Youtube views. I’m sure you’ve seen it
Last year, they bought out a follow up – baby&me which is still riding high in the viral charts and looks to be equally successful.
Some people claim to have packaged up the secret to creating a viral hit, but of course there is no magic formula. Cadbury’s have never created a follow up anywhere near as successful as its Gorilla ad.
So – bravo to Evian for creating 2 viral hits. It seems we can’t enough of computer generated babies
We all know that great marketing starts with great insight so it’s important that we continue to sharpen and hone our insight generation skills. I love working with insightful people, the ones who have a knack of really being able to get to the heart of the matter and spot the real killer insights. So, what do they do well and what can we learn from them?
1 Keep Looking
Insightful people are great observers. They spot details. They see things others don’t see. They’re very aware of whats happening around them. They look at body language. They never turn off their insight antennae. Everything they see or hear is the source of a potential insight
2 Really Listen
Great listening sounds easy but it’s not. It means listening openly and attentively without trying to second guess what’s coming next. Insightful people stay engaged all the time. They have a habit of getting people to open up by listening without having any assumptions . They’re able to manage the thread of a discussion so that people continue to reveal their true feelings
3 Great Questioning
Hand in hand with attentive listening is being able to probe and ask the right kind of questions, without imposing your point of view, criticizing or judging. Insightful people ask questions that are open and exploratory. Occasionally they ask questions that are provocative in order to explore a hypothesis or test a point of view, but it always encourages an honest response
in order to interpret what you’ve discovered you need to see the situation from the other person’s perspective, rather than purely your own. Insightful people are able to place themselves in the other person’s world so they can really make sense of what emerges rather than feel confused or surprised about what they see or hear.
5 Dig Deep
To get true insight, you need to keep exploring. Insightful people don’t settle for just the surface understanding. When they find something out that appears interesting they keep pushing and keep probing to get a deeper understanding.
6 Be Thorough
Insight people have great analytical skills. They talk to lots of people. They don’t jump to conclusions on the basis of flimsy information. They read data and look to spot patterns and make sense of the facts.
7 Project Forward
Insight is only useful what it can be applied to your business. Insightful people are always aware of the implications of what they’ve discovered and how it can be applied. Whenever they discover something they’re always projecting forward and thinking – is this helpful or useful?
These are the habits and behaviours of insightful people that I’ve observed. What’s your perspective?