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.


Creativity: Steampunk Rocks

I’m a huge fan of Steampunk, for a variety of reasons. For the uninitiated, Steampunk kinda envisions a world in which Victorian style and technology meets the future, although it’s a lot more complex than that.


Datamancer creates incredible Victorian style computer hardware

What I love about Steampunk in particular, is the focused creativity that people pour into it. Here we have a circumstance where people have looked at everyday items, and rather than trying to impose change for the sake of improvement, they’ve simply re-imagined them. It’s a classic ‘what if?’ What if the world we live in today, existed 150 years ago?

Steampunk cufflnks from The Steampunk Shop










Steampunk is everywhere. Stores like the Steampunk Shop and Datamancer sell everything from Steampunk computers to cufflinks to Victorian brass and leather blasters. Steampunk books and movies abound. Steampunk aficionados are exploring the concept to its fullest.

So how does this relate to you as a creative type? Remember that creativity isn’t just about changing things that don’t work. It’s not only about fixing problems. Sometimes it’s about looking at the world we live in and experimenting.

Although I know it wasn’t born this way, I can imagine a Steampunk pioneer whispering a  De Bono concept into his or her mahogany and brass dictaphone… “Po: today is yesterday…. now where can I go with that idea?”

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.