Three methods of creative thinking you can use to achieve better brainstorming

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One of the benefits of being a smaller agency is how much weight everyone’s ideas have. Here, everyone’s voice and opinions matter.

We spent a day reviewing the past year’s performance. Highs, lows, and what worked, and why. We updated the team with our goals, and plan for success in for the coming year. We also pay close attention to continued professional development. A key part of that is keeping our minds sharp, our ideas effective and our ideation skills fresh.

Using some of the same ideation methods we successfully apply to brainstorming in the studio for our clients, we explored some of the ideas we had for our own business development – how we want to strengthen our own value.

(Ideation is the creative process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas).

We were also inspired by the methods of the Pop-Up Agency, (“creativity is not only for creatives”) who work in short, sharp intense bursts (think 48 hour sessions) to provide their clients with the creative for digital work aimed specifically at Millennials. They start by breaking down a brief to one sentence  – a challenge in itself.


Method one: brain dump.


Began by emptying your brain.

How to use this method:

  • Work on your own
  • Don’t discuss the ideas you have with anyone as they can become diluted
  • Write down ALL ideas that come into your brain each on a separate post-it note
  • No ideas are bad ideas, write every single one down.

Then rank your ideas by placing them on an ideation matrix, discussing them as a team in order to grade them by impact and also ease of implementation. The goal is for them to hit the ‘high impact, easy to implement’ square, but it’s a really interesting way to look at ideas on a scale of effectiveness. Some ideas would have a fantastic impact, if only we could figure out a way of putting them into practice, and at the other end of the scale, there were some that would be dead easy to implement, but wouldn’t be exactly earth-shattering in terms of impact. Many were somewhere in the middle, but the exercise of grading our ideas in terms of usefulness was brilliant for making sure we only focused on developing the best ideas for each project.


Method two: speed dating

  • Use a large piece of paper
  • Each person starts at their own space on the paper (station)
  • Start at your own station and write down your idea (within a time limit of one minute).
  • After each minute move to the next station and expand on the idea you see. Continue until you have visited each station, expanding on each idea.

This method concentrates your focus on developing the seed of an idea to the next point. Each time you work on somebody else’s idea it forces you to think from a different viewpoint, and allows the original idea to develop further with input from everybody on the team. This means the idea is explored more fully with fresh thoughts from each person.


Method three: the worst idea

Great for removing the fear of having a bad idea – in fact they’re encouraged! This generates uninhibited thoughts around the brief.

How to use this method:

Work independently and list the very worst ideas you can think of in response to the brief.

Then explore what the total opposite of the initial might look like.

This method removes the fear you get when sharing ideas that yours’ is somehow bad or stupid – as that’s the point with this way of working! And learning to turn a terrible idea into something that could, actually, just about work – is a really creative way of thinking.

In our team day we came up with some really exciting ideas for our clients as well as some really, really, genuinely bad ones. (It may be true that there is no such thing as a bad idea, but it’s also true that C4-themed party bags are a pretty niche product).

As a creative agency, we never stand still – staying agile and fresh is vital, so experimenting with new ideation methods is essential to keep the team thinking new.

Big ideas remain at the core of our approach, so challenging ourselves to constantly think about problems in new ways is vital.

We hope the ideas above help you in your next brainstorming sessions. And don’t forget we can run powerful creative thinking sessions for you too. We also offer fully immersive brand development day packages which help you to uncover the value of your brand, discuss why anybody should care about your new product, how audiences could feel more engaged. These days are a great opportunity for developing your internal communications too – strengthening your recruitment or people brand, and finding new ways of engaging your employees.


Email us to find out how one of these creative thinking sessions could help you develop your business.


WE CAN Creative. Ideas to feed your brand.


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