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.


It’s A Trap! How Pigeonholing Your Creativity Can Hurt

Being pigeonholed can actively restrict your creativity. It’s a trap!

Focus is important in creativity. It allows you to achieve, rather than wallow about in a swamp of disparate ideas. Knowing what your strengths are, knowing how to use them to their best ability, knowing how to maximise creative opportunities are all elements of focus.

However, there’s a big difference between focus and pigeonholing, and many creative types (or their bosses) forget that. Just because you focus your creativity on developing stunning artworks in one particular medium doesn’t mean that is the only area you should think creatively.

The advertising industry is ride with pigeonholed creatives.
That’s a copywriter. That’s an art director. That’s a digital specialist.

Don’t ask the copywriter to think about integrating his words visually within a digital environment. That’s why we have individual specialists, right?

Yawn. Ok, I’m slightly exaggerating, but only slightly. I’ve dealt with many people who look at me as a specialist in my given medium, assuming I have little value in any other (there are probably a few who think i have little value in any medium, but that’s another story).

It’s a shortsighted attitude, and one that you, as a creative type, should treat very carefully. If you allow yourself to be pigeonholed too strictly, you’re actively allowing your creative output to be reduced.

Think about it. If you’re a writer and create visuals, you gain a new perspective on how words and images combine. If you’re an architect who plays an instrument, your understanding of acoustics may affect your next design. If you’re a painter who sculpts, how much better wil you understand light and shadow the next time you pick up a brush.

Of course, it seems obvious. But it’s often forgotten as we delve deeper into our own specialities. Explore creativity itself as a discipline, and please, please broaden the creative fields in which you work.

Remember a computer geek with a penchant for typography….

From Mumbrella: Go on then… What are the creative industries?

Excellent cross posting HERE from Mumbrella & The Conversation on the decline of the so called ‘creative industries’, and the idea that such things even exist.


All industries have the potential for creativity.

All people are creative.

Creativity can be enhanced by training. That’s a fact, Jack.


Until we stop labeling industries as ‘creative’, we won’t stop considering others ‘non creative’, and until we stop the twin tidal waves of risk aversion and conformity that are currently sweeping the world, we will continue to see incremental creativity, rather than the radical ideas that have truly changed the world.

Redfoo Hoodoo. Why Let’s Get Ridiculous is actually ridiculous.

I’m seriously LMFAO at Redfoo‘s latest ‘hit’, Let’s Get Ridiculous.

The track is a funky little pop piece, but in my opinion, it sounds exactly like an LMFAO track, with half the talent missing. Redfoo probably has more talent in his white framed glasses than I do in my entire body, but Let’s Get Ridiculous shows that he wasn’t 100% of the smarts in LMFAO.

The whole was greater than the sum of its parts.

Creative partnerships are tricky relationships. Sometimes one partner appears to be the driving force, and begins to believe their own publicity. That’s fine if it’s true, but it soon becomes obvious if it’s not.

If you find yourself working in a creative partnership, keep your eyes wide open, and identify what each person brings to the party. Focus on your strengths and allow them to focus on theirs.Collaborate honestly, and try to keep ego out of the mix as much as possible. Accept that one of the reasons you’re together is (at some stage) you believed you could both add value to the equation.

If your shared input creates something that neither of you could create alone, then wow, you’re in the LMFAO zone. If it doesn’t, then you start to look a little ridiculous.

Authority Is Given, Control Is Taken, Respect Is Earned.

But once you earn respect, the others often follow.

With Respect to Operation Respect, Rock River Valley

Earning respect in any field is tough, and creative types have it tougher than most. What we do is usually subjective, we’re always competing with the next big thing and past success is often seen as a sign that we’re past our best.

So how do you earn the respect of your peers? I can only go by my own experiences.


I’m not claiming to be at the top of my field by any measure (when it comes to ideas, I like to think of myself as a hack with a knack), but I believe I’ve earned some level of respect from my peers, and I hope to continue holding that respect for a while longer.

How? I help, and I share.

I’m not the world’s greatest creative, but the techniques I’ve learned, the insights I’ve gathered, the work I’ve done over years has value, and I share that with my teams, colleagues and associates whenever and wherever possible.

I don’t shove anything down their throats, but I’m happy to have my brain picked and to explain why I’ve done what I’ve done, and how I did it. Over the years, I hope I’ve helped a few people grow in their careers, and helped others solve creative problems.

Basically, I don’t believe I’ve earned respect based on particular projects, as much as on a willingness to share and help others along the creative path.

So the question is; what do you do to earn respect as a creative? If you’re relying on that last big idea, you might be in trouble (that was great, but what have you done for us lately?). If you rely on building respect and reputation based on helping and mentoring those around you, you’ll find the path easier, more sustainable and ultimately more rewarding.