Unlocking Your Creativity


Partnership = Perks

As a WORLDCOM partner, Strategic America receives many benefits beyond an impressive affiliation on business cards and email signatures. We gain access to business partnerships, industry insights, global research and professional development opportunities.

Brainstorming is essential to every project here at SA. With our team members’ different backgrounds and ways of seeing the world, big ideas are generated and solutions are found. When I was invited to the WORLDCOM webinar “10 ½ Ways To Unlock Your Creative Streak,” as SA’s Creative Director, I knew the webinar would be invaluable. I was right. The webinar provided methods to keep creativity flowing and how to better brainstorm.

Here are a few of my favorites:

A Better Way to Brainstorm

We know that creative ideas aren’t limited to the Creative Department. Who knows more about the latest media innovations than someone from the Media Department? Who has more direct client contact than someone from our Client Services or PR teams?

Here at SA, we gather “brains to storm” from throughout the agency.  We also invite clients to brainstorm with us.

Arrive with an Open Mind

If you arrive to a brainstorm thinking and talking about all the other things on your plate, you’re not arriving with the right mindset. Allow yourself to focus on the task at hand. The rest will wait. You may even return to them feeling reinvigorated.

Set the Mood

If you’re feeling stifled in the office, go for a walk. Take a trip to your favorite coffee shop. Staring at my computer isn’t the way to get my creative juices flowing. I encourage my department members to find their own ways to maximize their creativity.

Favor Psychographics over Demographics

Say we know the target audience is 18-24 year old females. What else? Figure out the audience’s needs and wants. Get out and experience what the customer sees, hears and feels. One client team recently spent a day working behind a convenience store counter to gain an authentic feel for the business. You can’t gather insight like that from reading a creative brief.

Use Differences to Your Advantage

Encourage everyone to brainstorm from the beginning in whatever way works for them. Extroverts thrive in a group setting. But, also find ways to gather ideas from the introverts of the room who may not feel as comfortable speaking up. The best ideas aren’t always the loudest.

Don’t Worry

Worried you have a bad idea? Even if it’s not THE idea, it very well may be the catalyst to the solution. Don’t censor too soon as the ideas flow.

Your own negativity can stop imaginative thinking in four ways:

  • Pessimism: “That won’t work.”
  • Adversarial:  “Let me play devil’s advocate.”
  • Dismissal: “We’ve already tried that.”
  • Disdain: “That’s a stupid idea.”

Take Risks

We can’t look for only the big idea that’s safe. We must be ready to take risks. If we won’t sell a client on good, bold ideas, someone else will. Take a chance and prepare for the consequences. Address the potential issues and be ready to go big.

What works for me is a three-step ideation process. Overall, I prefer brainstorming with a larger group and then moving to a smaller team that understands the project and its objectives. It’s always important to have inspirational material close by from which to glean ideas and in case I get stuck or feel I’ve reached a dead end.

Here’s How I Start

Step 1. I build my first thoughts and ideas around what’s expected. This allows my thought process to warm up.

Step 2. Next I revisit Phase One to identify what I feel is most distinctive and build from there. At that point, I’ve done a good share of research and have uncovered a few applicable insights

Step 3.  The brain is now in full gear. This is where it gets fun and also where it becomes the toughest.  Focusing time here usually pays off and can reveal those big ideas that typically go undiscovered. Make it fun and don’t settle for good enough. If it’s only “good enough,” start over and repeat the process.

What do you do to stay creative?

My Recommended Reads:

Kasey VerMulm contributed to this blog post.


One Response to “Unlocking Your Creativity”

  1. Gayle Welter

    Bruce – what a great message! So many times creative thinking is partnered with crazy things to get people thinking. But this is a great way to actually approach the process. Thanks for sharing.

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