Method in the madness . . .

Coming up with ideas is one the hardest things to do . . Unlike other more ‘cumulative’ work where you know what you will reap if you sow X amount of hours, ideas come and go without warning or time limits. Many a time I have sat down, sketch pad and freshly sharpened 2B in hand, only to find my mind wandering to shoddy second rate thoughtstarters and half formed shopping lists…

Even the most creative people find it difficult to come up with ideas day after day – whether it’s new product ideas, design ideas, the perfect copy or content – getting your neurons firing can be frustrating, especially on those days when your brain inconveniently turns itself off so I thought I’d share with you a bunch of tricks I use to get the juices going…

1. Brainstorm in front of the TV :: The more ideas you come up with the better. Plus, once you get all the crap predictable ideas out of your head, you’re more likely to come up with a cracker. There’s nothing worse than staring at a blank sheet of paper so I sit & watch TV and try and come up with an idea during every ad break. At the very least, at the end of my favourite show, I’ve got 8 or so crap ideas to get me started. Unless you’re watching the ABC…

2.  Surf the net & steal with glee :: There’s a blog I love called ‘Talent imitates Genius steals’ and I like to think that there’s nothing wrong with ‘adapting’ an idea from another category & giving it a bit of a make over and dropping it onto your own pad. After all, a good idea is a good idea no matter where it came from. Surf the net & just let your mind wander . . . sometimes you can see the dots but it just takes you a while to join ’em.

3. Re-express the problem :: If you can pare your problem back & look at the key issue, then re-express the problem in new language to give you a jump start. If you’re trying to think of acquisition ideas, start thinking about things similar to acquisition . . If acquisition is about getting people to join the party or the Telco service or the banking group, then re-express the issue. How do cult members get members to join? How does the church recruit people? How do we woo our partners? What does it mean to commit?

4. Method Cards :: I once ordered a pack of inspiration cards I found online from IDEO. I was quite excited to receive them in the post and waited eagerly for them to arrive. If truth be told, when they did I arrive I was a little disappointed . . . Sure they had some brainstorming exercises on them but nothing out of the ordinary, I guess they looked pretty. So I made up my own set of brainstorming cards. A bunch of techniques for when you really get stuck for ideas – I just pick a card one by one and force myself to bash out a couple before I move to the next one.

5. Look for opposites :: This is an easy one. What would happen if you took your problem to the extreme? What would happen if you made it the most expensive widget on the market? or the cheapest? What if you went after the smallest target? What if you appealed to everyone?

What’s your favourite brainstorming exercise? What gets your juices flowing? I’ll put a list together and post it with my set of cards here for downloading. It’s not brain science but they’re really useful when you get stuck staring at a blank sheet of paper…


2 thoughts on “Method in the madness . . .

  1. I’ve just changed it from ABS to ABC . . .That’s why we call you a smarty pants! Can I pay you formally to proof read my blog? 😉

  2. Well I guess if you’re watching the ABS, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, you wouldn’t would you?

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