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.

Creative Techniques: How A Simple Observation Can Lead To A Winning Idea

I recently discovered an awesome product created by 2 Australians (of course), Chris Peters and Rob Ward. The Opena.

The world’s first iPhone 4 case with a built in bottle opener. It’s been featured on blogs around the world and even tweeted by Ashton Kutcher.

I love the creativity of this design, and (I’m extrapolating here, as I don’t know the guys or their thought processes personally) I suspect it comes from a very simple creative technique.



Observation + Inspiration = Innovation.

I’ve mentioned several times that you must, must, must accumulate life experiences in order to be creative. You need input in order to create output. What input you absorb is your own business, but keep in mind, everything you do, see, hear, touch, smell, taste contributes.

The “oh crap, who’s got a bottle opener” moment is one that every Aussie has experienced, and even more so these days when imported (non screw top) beers are highly popular. Combine that with the fact that no one goes anywhere without their phones and bingo, inspiration!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s an easy mix. I’m looking at The Opena with a “why didn’t I think of that” expression on my face. Chris & Rob have created a killer, fun product.

Try to use every experience to bolster your creativity. De Bono talks about ‘moment to moment‘, examining how people and situations develop moment to moment. It can help you uncover things that you might normally ignore, and can lead to revelations of mobile beer opening grandeur!

Try it… and go buy an Opena.

Creative Techniques: The Voice Of Reason Sucks

The voice of reason sucks

There’s nothing worse when you’re generating ideas than to have your thought flow stopped by someone using The Voice Of Reason

The one issue with the voice of reason is… by definition, it sounds reasonable. It can make your concepts sound wrong. It is the voice of calm, rational thought, cutting through your wild ideas with caution.

The voice of reason usually says “wait, don’t jump right in until we examine the situation carefully”. OK, there are thousands upon thousands of situations where that’s the right approach, where the voice of reason should be applied and actioned.
But not every time.

Sometimes, the voice of reason is simply a disguise for the status quo. It’s easy for a colleague or more often a superior to jump into the middle of a brainstorm with a “hang on, let’s think about this”. The problem is, that often means, “hang on, let’s NOT think about this. Let’s drop it because it means change, and change can be dangerous.”

People will resist change, and your ideas can be threatening, particularly in their wild, untamed state. But you need to get them out and understood before you can dismiss them.

When brainstorming, use the voice of reason wisely. Don’t allow it to talk your ideas to death before they’re even born. Give it space, give it time where it needs to be heard, but don’t slavishly lend it your ears every time it speaks.

De Bono’s Six Hats offers methods of using the voice of reason without allowing it to stop your ideas flowing.