‘I am creative’ someone will say on a workshop ‘I just don’t have an idea about what to do at the moment’. Now many enterprises have people whose jobs are substantially about coming up with new ideas to deadlines. Most of them would vouch that getting ideas is easy – it’s making them happen is the hard part. We’ll tackle that aspect in future posts; for today we’ll look at getting ideas fast.

Why Ideas Go Missing

    We are not immersed in and fixated enough with what we are doing
    We don’t care enough about our subject to engage in depth with it
    We are too focussed on an end goal to play around and experiment with possibilities
    We don’t think of ourselves as ‘creative’ – even though people can be creative about any subject under the sun.
    We worry about being ‘right’. No such thing when it comes to an idea. People can like or dislike it, but who’s to say it’s right?

Idea Generator

Last year I went to workshop run by James Moxey for about 12 people. This is what we did:

    James gave us all a picture of the same chair.

    Then we went into small groups and came up with descriptive words for the chair. (This was slightly embarrassing to start off as some of us knew no one else there. But heck, you just had to leap in ). We came up with words, like ‘ simple’ ‘stripey’ and some made up like ‘screeny’. We combined the words and put them through Google images.
    1. Each of us chose images we liked and went away to design a chair relating to them.


    I liked this Kandinsky painting.

Inspired by the work of Louise Bourgeois too, this was my chair offer:

It did not get chosen to be prototyped, which wasn’t surprising. The design was rude and you would need care sitting to avoid a protruding nipple. But the workshop was terrific. In about an hour, 12 people who did not think of themselves as product designers, came up with coherent ideas for chairs.

A vivid demo then that all ideas are combinations of other ideas and that if we leap in and do with discipline, we can generate.

Inventing Jobs

There’s a memorable line in The Social Network film: ‘At Harvard we don’t find jobs, we invent them’. Choosing to go freelance or set up our own business often involves making up what we do. Most usefully we can put together themes which matter to people currently and are contradictory like:

Information and artistry – at www.informationisbeautiful.net
State control and state engagement – at www.gallomanor.com
Creative experiment and survival – at www.kickstarter.com

This is that old adage of identify a problem (contradiction) and then help people solve it. 10 years ago most of us had never heard of SEO expert, back-end developer or the dreaded social networking consultant…

Coming next: Getting Real about Authenticity .

By szcz

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