Creative thinking #innovate

Ever get stuck in a rut when it comes to creating a new idea or finding an innovative solution to a problem. Then have a read through this quick guide on how to get your creative juices flowing.


Best practice - the process
  1. Examine - Pin down the brief. Get a clear understanding of what you're wanting to achieve to avoid creating an invention rather than an innovation.
  2. Explore - Gather factual data from both internal sources and relevant external sources. Don't forget your customers, find out what they want and need.
  3. Explode - Create a range of tangible solutions.
  4. Extract - Select the solution(s) that will give you the most return
  5. Execute - Make it happen



The Focus Ladder

You can use the focus ladder to help you get a clearer view of the brief or problem.

By placing your brief in the middle of the ladder, you can then take it further to help you in your cause. The further up the ladder you go, the broader your brief becomes, this gives you more of a 'why' are you doing this.

Create a funnel on the wall or floor and start sticking your thoughts up

The lower down the ladder you go, the more specific your brief will become. This gives you a tactical, or the 'how' style description for your brief.


Factual data - would it stand up in court

Create a data bank.

Collate all your data, ensuring that it is factual and not opinion. Make sure you have the context and write it down on a single post it. Do this for all your data, and stick it on the wall.

On your own, read through all the data, and make sure you are focuses on the task at hand. Clear your mind of other distractions and take your time.

Once your confident, write down any reoccurring themes you notice throughout. Does something jump out at you, or are there several pieces of data that back up the same point. Capture as many as you spot.

Using the themes you have spotted, you can now start to create your opportunities.

Think of questions that you can ask, and write them down. Make sure you have an open question finishing with a so what. For example:

"How can we utilise video content so customer engagement rises?"

Do this for all your themes, and then share with your team. This will give you starting points for your ideas and you know they will be relevant as they have originated from your data.


Nurture the ideas and let go

How many times have you had an idea for someone to say "it won't work, we've tried it before", or something to that effect. Your idea has been killed before it's even began. How do we know if an idea is bad if we don't see where it goes.

This is why it's important to nurture every idea and see what it grows in to. It's at this point when you can see if it will work or not. Practice nurturing ideas with other people by expanding on their idea with them. "Yes and..." is a great way to do this and you can build upon the idea and take it further and make it better.

Have an ideas session

In small groups, 2 - 4 at most, sit down at eye level and have one person facilitate and the rest participate.

Take one of your opportunities and let the creative juices flow. Start off with an idea, a phrase or a question to get yourselves going. When someone has an idea, nurture it!

Don't kill the idea by saying it won't work, but instead question them further, what do they mean, what would it look like? If you can, expand on it and take the idea further. Keep on going with it until you finish, you will know when you have and then you can start to document it.

Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the right hand side, draw what your idea looks like. Is it a flow chart, or a story board? If someone was to pick up the paper that wasn't part of the group, would they understand?

On the left, write down the main points of the idea. What will it do, what results will it bring and what would it feel like? Finally, give your idea a name, it doesn't have to be the final one, but come up with something you can remember.

Do this for every opportunity you have and exhaust your ideas. This is quite taxing though, and you need to have a break every 30 minutes or so and switch things up. Change your group around!!!

And voila! You should have some well thought out tangible ideas that people not involved with the process of creating them can understand.

Be open minded

All the way through this process, you need to have an open mind, otherwise you will struggle to think.

When we are stressed and tense, this is very difficult to do, and coming up with ideas can be a challenge. Think about when you have the most of your ideas...

I bet you have said places like the shower, or in bed, whilst your driving or exercising, maybe even on the toilet! This is because you are feeling more relaxed and at ease, and your mind is open to possibility. Think about this when you are having these sessions and do something prior to help you be at ease. Spend ten minutes prior playing a game or carrying out an activity.


Choose the most potent solution

Go through your ideas and select which one or ones you think will have the most benefit or is best suited for your problem.

Talk through it with your team, but make sure you are all in a decision making state rather than a creative one. If different people are in different mindsets, then you won't get where you want.


Just do it

There's not a lot to say on this really. Once you know what your solution or idea is, and you have chosen the most potent one, make it happen.

Dont let it sit in a draw, or your inbox. Once you do it, you've them got your innovation!

There you go!

If you would like more information or help on being innovative, then speak to your Talent Development partner who can be found on Talent Online.

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