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Idea Generation/Brainstorm facilitation workshop notes

7 years ago, Written by , Posted in Uncategorized

Here are some notes from a workshop I took last year, basically all the tools and techniques you can use when facilitating a brainstorm. Some useful stuff in there, hopefully it makes sense. If not, feel free to ask and I can clarify.

M. x

The tools/exercises:
– H2 – how to (if this tool doesn’t work, it might be because the problem statement is too broad) 
– Re-expression 
– Rules of divergent thinking 
– Interesting/wacky ideas 
– Stimulus, use to help sell other products 
– Brands we envy 
– Chain letter 
– Connected worlds – jump river 
– You’re fired (my favourite) 
– Break the rules – much easier to tame a wild idea that make a boring idea great 
– Role play “can’t you handle a whisky drinking woman?” 
– Naive experts – clients love this one 
– Step into their shoes 
– ER (work) to play group (tell a story and throw random words in and run with it)

Define: Creativity 
Simply, the ability to solve problems by connecting random concepts and ideas to form new ideas

– Pre-brainstorm – in an agency – let everyone know anyone can contribute and give ideas, and that all ideas are valued. Gives a chance for juniors to step up and tone down the egos. 
– Send an email in advance, give everyone a chance to think about it. 
– WIP and ideas together won’t work, very unproductive, left/right brain, waste of time and money 
– Always invite someone from outside of the team, they can give a fresh perspective 
– Discuss with the client/boss prior to brainstorm in order to clarify the problem/challenge 
– Devise affirmative/positive problem statement

Problem statement – ONE sentence that sums up the challenge. Use a positive statement.

– Questioning tool – turn everything into a positive = better brainstorm 
– Use – different ways of expressing one word 
– If you take what’s obvious in one category/brand/industry into another category/brand/industry, you will get fresh ideas! E.g. What would coke do? What would Nike do?

Tips for being creative: 
– Always record ideas in a notepad / iPhone 
– Brainstorm once a week, don’t wait for a brief – come up with 100 ideas -> will lead to 1 perfect one 
– Get an enemy/competitor, get passionate about game changing ideas 
– Set aside time for creative thinking with no distractions 
– Have stimulus on hand 
– Go on an artists date (get out and see things), get inspired and expand your mind (great book – the artists way by Julia Cameron) 
– Create in times of turmoil, when you need it most. 
– Don’t brake and accelerate at the same time! Divergant vs. convergant 
– Tell yourself and team that you/them are all creative – we are all born creative, socially conditioned into thinking we aren’t – didn’t draw within the lines in year 5, so we aren’t good artists and aren’t creative. Creativity starts with the challenge.

How to method (H2) – objective: make sure that you are getting to the challenge. You can do this on your own or with a client if needed. 

1. Write your problem statement in the middle of a blank page. First, ladder up, then ladder down. 4-5 times each way. (Arrow up- why is that important? Arrow down- what’s stopping you?) 
2. “H2” all your statements, making them affirmative 
3. Read all problem statements and choose one that feels right. It will be the right one that gets to the heart of the challenge 
4. Keep other problem statements on hand. You can pull out another one in a brainstorm to change direction if needed

Re-expression – objective: avoid using words that can send our thinking down a familiar path 

1. How many different ways can you re-express the problem statement? 
2. Which words can be swapped? 
A thesaurus can be helpful.

Divergent thinking – is coming up with lots of different solutions to a problem. It allows us to be highly creative and expand our options.

The 4 rules are:
1. Suspend – no buts 
2. Quantity is quality 
3. Seek wild and crazy ideas 
4. Must have fun

Crazy ideas lead to brilliant ideas. Get old and stuffy ideas out of the way.

Divergent thinking – creativity warm up 

Objective – warm up the creative muscle 

– Help participants to shift from work mode to brainstorm mode 
– Have fun and get participants out of their shell 
– Sets up the room energy for your brainstorm

1st column – Heard it before 
2nd column – Interesting 
3rd column – Crazy & Whacky

(Keep prompting until you get at least 10 ideas in the 3rd column.)

Divergant thinking – stimulus ”the secret ingredient”

Objective: generate great ideas quickly and easily, show participants how easy it is to make random connections.

Problem statement: xxxxxxxxxxx.

Now, choose your object or thing, celebrity, city, cartoon character. Any object or thing can help us ‘river jump’, stretch our brains and make connections we wouldn’t have otherwise thought of.

(e.g. teabag – water brings out flavour, in a mesh bag.. toothbrush in a mesh bag – dehydrated and disposable)

Try to get at least 20 ideas.

Divergant thinking – brands we envy
We all have brands we love and envy. When we step into the brands shoes, we can borrow their ideas and their thinking. “How would they solve my challenge?”

Problem statement: xxxxxxxxxxx.

Now write down what you envy about your chosen brand. 

e.g. “I envy Apple because: 
– their first impression is always delightful 
– constantly fresh and innovative 
– a badge people are proud to show off (apple stickers on cars, too!) 
– they know how to create loyalists 

Try to get 20 ideas. (Emirates – middle seat sell & body shop)

*turn (so called) negatives into positives e.g. Heinz – takes ages to get out of the bottle.. solution – “worth the wait” keep it thick.

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