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Becoming an ideas machine

We’re all ideas people but our brains need to be exercised and trained, like any other muscle. After a workshop on channelling creativity, here’s Nathan Brincau’s suggestions.

We’re all ideas people but our brains need to be exercised and trained, like any other muscle. After a workshop on channelling creativity, here’s Nathan Brincau’s suggestions.

Creativity: you either have it or you don’t.

Wrong. Over and over we hear people say, “I’m not a creative person” yet this is so far from the truth. We all have a spark of creativity within us.

Our innate creativity needs to be channelled and focussed, ensuring it forms ideas that don’t slip away into the abyss. It’s not about being a ‘creative person’ but rather learning how to unlock your creativity and become an ideas machine. Once the ideas are formed, the next steps are to evaluate and hopefully see them come to fruition!

Conceiving Ideas

Freeing your mind is an important part of unleashing your creativity and developing your ideas. Practice making time for yourself outside your normal routine and let your mind refresh and wander. Set a time for yourself to read, listen to a podcast, go for a walk or paint – pick something that you enjoy. Try setting this space in your best ‘season’ within the day (the point in the day in which you are most creative). For some it might be the moment you wake up, for others it can be late at night or somewhere in between. Find that season and keep space during that time.

Whatever the question is you’re trying to answer (every idea answers a question/problem), don’t try and force it; it might come to you in a ‘eureka moment’ or you may need to follow a process to get there. If it doesn’t come to you in a eureka moment, try these four steps across four days:

  1. Day one: Dump all of your ideas down onto paper. Don’t touch them, don’t refine them, don’t remove them. Whatever comes to mind as a potential idea, jot it down (no matter how unrealistic you think it may be).
  2. Day two: Edit your ideas. This is where you begin to make more sense of them, build them out and refine them.
  3. Day three: Add personality or the creative angle. You’ve got the idea, now it’s time to give it some flavour, dress it up and make it appealing.
  4. Day four: Clean it up. Finalise the idea and ensure it is the correct solution/answer to the problem/question.

Train your brain

Think of it as a muscle, the more it’s used, the stronger it gets. There are lots of small, simple things you can do during day to help to train your creativity muscles:

  • Play an ‘alternate uses’ game with either yourself or your team where you need to identify objects and come up with alternative uses for these objects. (e.g. A drinking glass can also be used for a pencil holder, pot plant, etc.)
  • Choose an object or topic, then come up with 10 ways you can make it better
  • Try merging two existing ideas together (e.g. Tinder is essentially a combination of online shopping and dating)

Evaluating Ideas

An outside perspective is always a great place to start to get a feel for what kind of reception you’ll get from your idea. Speak to your friends and family and see what they think – does it make any sense and solve the problem at hand? Use this as an initial guide but not the final word; they might be too far removed from the problem to completely understand the situation. This is when it’s important to follow your instincts: If you believe in the idea and you know that it will work, trust yourself and trust the process. You’ll have the opportunity to go back and prove them wrong later on!

Finally, be your own harshest critic and look at it from a number of different angles. Look at the facts and ask yourself “Is this idea going to work?” Play devil’s advocate and jot down every reason the idea might fail, then be the idea’s greatest supporter and list every reason it will work. It’s important to look at it from as many angles as possible; there are many different personalities and perspectives the idea will be proposed to.

Selling Ideas

Hundreds of ideas are thought up every day. We don’t always hear about them but it’s not (always) because they don’t work, it could be that they’re not marketed properly. Make people want to talk about your idea, make them feel like they’re missing out if they don’t. Is there something about it that makes it newsworthy? Can you find an emotional reaction to instil in people when they think of your idea?

Naming your idea is also important as it needs to be catchy and easy to remember; something that sticks in the mind of people. Try using tools that generate slogans or brainstorm with your team, friends or family. Make sure you’re also not overcomplicating your idea; keep it simple. If you can explain it to a five year old and they are able to understand, you’re on the right track!

Finally and most importantly, timing is critical. Make sure that the market is ready for you; you don’t want to launch your idea too early, but you also can’t wait too long in case someone else does something similar. Observe and understand the market to know when it’s the right time to release your idea and be confident in what you’ve got.

Our takeaways from ‘Becoming an Idea Machine’, a workshop run by Franziska and Christo from Basic Bananas, and hosted by Vivid.

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