Creative Techniques: Two Tricks To Turbocharge Your Ideas

ideasI have recently been trawling back through old posts to see if they still resonate. This post from 2013 reminded me that some things never change. Even now, I still see a tendency to jump at the first idea that comes to me (or members of my team), and a tendency to reject and move on from ideas that look problematic at first glance.


Idea generation is important. If you’re answering a client brief worth thousands, or planning a party for the weekend, don’t take the easy way out. it generally leads to less creative solutions.


In marketing and advertising (and other fields), when you need ideas, you often need a lot of ideas, fast. You brainstorm, you think tank, you blue sky…. you use a bunch of different ways to create ideas, but at the end of the day you’re sitting at a screen thinking “this sucks“. So what went wrong?

Idea generation can be a tricky beast. Two scenarios often kick in.

1. Your first idea gets stuck in your head, you think it’s great and it becomes difficult to move on.

2. You instantly analyse each idea in its embryonic stage, spot the problems and reject it out of hand.

Both scenarios can quickly stifle progress. So how do you avoid them? Here are a couple of simple techniques.

For the ‘first idea is the best idea‘ problem, you need to force yourself to move on. This requires discipline, which is easy to say but often hard to achieve unless you plan properly. Set yourself a target number of ideas to generate. It might be 3, or 5, or 100. Draw up a grid on a sheet of paper, but only allow enough room for a paragraph to describe the core of the idea. Write that down, then move on. It will still continue to develop in your subconscious, but the grid and the targets will help you refocus.

If you’re comfortable generating lots of ideas but you keep finding flaws, slow down. Generate the core idea, write it down and then re-examine it at a later date. De Bono’s 6 Hats thinking system is useful here. Look at each idea, mark down the flaws, but continue to use the 6 hats system to properly examine the idea. Just because an idea is flawed doesn’t mean it’s dead. The benefits may outweigh the issues. The 6 hats system can help you find ways around problems, and more importantly will train you to analyse ideas more effectively. The good old Black Hat is not a kiss of death, it’s more a means of identifying potential warnings. Work them through.

Idea generation is not a science, but there are plenty of methods to make it more consistent and more effective. I hope these help.


Creative Techniques: The Benefits Of The Right Creative Thinking Space

Apologies for my recent slackness in posting. New jobs demand new focus, so my head has been firmly in workspace.

creativity_booster_kit-250x300As part of that new role, I recently had the pleasure of attending a creative training session with Mark Hawkins of Inventium. Stacks of great, scientifically based insights and techniques for improving creativity.

I’m not going to delve too deeply into what Mark taught (hey, it’s how Inventium makes a living), but the issue of creative space resonated strongly with me. Where do you do your thinking?

In many corporations today, national designs infiltrate local offices, painting walls, ceilings and floors in a triple coat of beige. While this is great for accountants and senior management, who may only crack a smile when 100% conformity is reached, it often leaves workers in incredibly uninspiring environments.

Yes, the advertising and marketing worlds are usually different, but I’ve been dragged into many creative sessions with clients in the boardrooms of the bland.

If you have control over your creative environment, Inventium recommends warm colours and external images (i.e. natural scenes) on the walls to help stimulate creativity. If you don’t have control, open the front door and go for a walk.

I attempt a 20 minute walk every day. It’s good for my health, and (because I always take a problem out on the walk with me) it’s good for business. The break from routine, the natural environment and the change in my usual surroundings always helps my creativity.

Do it. Grab the handle, open the door and change your environment when you need that extra creative nudge.

Creative Techniques: 4 Creative Tricks That Require No Skills

brilliant_mind_cs2Down and dirty. How do you generate different ideas consistently, without simply regurgitating the same things over and over?

Browse the web (or this blog) and you’ll find hundreds of idea generating posts. From complex techniques through to short and simple tips.

The problem is, and always has been, applying these techniques consistently.


So many people nod sagely and make notes every time they read a new post about idea generation, and then (with all good intentions) fail to follow any technique for more than a couple of days.

It’s human nature. We’re busy, we’re lazy. We forget. We get distracted. Our brains are hardwired for repetition, so we fall back into our old patterns.

So what is the answer? How do you keep the ideas flowing? Well, I’d be wasting your time if I just added another list of techniques, so here are four simple things I do to stay creative, which take no skills at all.

Read. Anything and everything. Read outside your interests. Creativity is input. Soak it up, baby.

Sleep. Get lots of it. If you have a project you’re thinking through, sleep on it.

Walk. Walk away from the desk. Walk in the sunshine. It helps you stay fit, and it helps your mind wander. Believe it or not, it takes discipline to leave your desk!

Turn the radio off in the car. I can’t recommend this from a driver safety perspective, but I can from a thinking perspective. Whenever I drive alone, I have a strict rule. I listen to the radio on one leg of the journey, but turn it off on the other. This forces me to think.

Ok, so it is another list. These tricks take no skill, but they will help you focus on your thinking. A certain level of creativity is inherent in everyone, but for those of us who are expected to perform creatively every day, skills must be improved, and discipline is vital.

Think about it.

The 3 Top Tips To Creativity That You Already Know, But Aren’t Doing.

EelCreativity is a slippery beast. Everybody has great ideas. You just ask them. But how many are translated into reality? Here are three simple tips that you KNOW you should follow. So why aren’t you?

1. Begin. whatever you’re planning to do, start doing it. I know how lame this advice sounds, but I also know how many people have said to me “oh, I’ve always wanted to write/paint/sculpt/invent etc. etc.” Ideas are everywhere. Creativity is everywhere. The determination to do something about it is in short supply. Which brings me to tip #2.

Drum roll please….

2. Persevere. The alternative to the “I’ve always wanted to” line is “I started to write/paint/sculpt/invent something once…”. Beginning to work on your idea is fine, but once the initial thrill is over, it’s too easy to put it aside, or lose it in the mundane activities of the day to day. Keep going. Set yourself realistic mini goals throughout your project. Keep notes so you can see how far you’ve progressed. Find your own way to push yourself onwards, so you never feel the regret of saying “I started…..”. Instead, head for the chest puffing you of tip #3.

3. Finish. I know, you’re reeling back in amazement. Or saying “duh” to yourself. How can you start something without finishing it? Come on, be honest. How many drawers or files of half finished bits and pieces litter your life? Don’t keep fiddling away forever. Nothing is ever perfect, and you can come back and tweak later, as long as you finish first. Set a time frame. Even if it’s only first draft. Invite friends over to see your work on a set date. Publicly proclaim that you WILL finish on this day, at this hour and minute, so you can’t hide and tinker.

Creative endeavors are highly emotive. They carry a high risk of personal embarrassment if they fail. So it’s way, way too easy to carry that world breaking idea in your head and trot it out at parties than it is to commit to completion.

Years ago I had an idea for a novel. I began, I persevered and I completed. Did I become the next JK Rowling? No. But I can always say I did it. You can even buy it HERE.

Go on. Take the risk. Get your hands dirty. Begin, persevere and finish.

Creative Techniques: Have You Ever Been Asked This Question?

volcanoIf you’re a creative type, there’s a good chance you’ve been asked this question. “Where do you get your ideas from?” In fact, Google that phrase and you’ll get over 2 billion responses.

It seems that people who consider themselves non-creative (I don’t believe in that there animal) think there is a definitive source of creativity. A single font from which ideas flow like lava from a volcano.

I believe that creativity is a combination of inherent talent, trainable skill and external input. However, external input can come from many sources, and some are certainly more inspiring than others. While I actively read and research a stack of subjects, there are a few areas that simply soak into the consciousness.

Family. Food. Work. Play.

The basic emotional triggers vary from person to person and culture to culture, but their power to inspire is amazing. Read and research. broaden your horizons, and revel in the things that make you happy. That’s where ideas are born.