Back in January, Michael Klinepier, our head of creative and production, sent me an article showing how and why #brainstorming doesn’t work very well. I’ve held onto that article and now it’s time to explore alternatives to brainstorming that may help your creative process resulting in more and better content. First a quick recap: Jonah Lehrer wrote an article for the New Yorker (linked below) citing studies that show traditional brainstorming techniques — where ideas are proffered with no dissent allowed — don’t work. Dissent was found to be vastly superior for divining which ideas were best. And so, let’s take a look at some ways you can think about stimulating creativity for your online content marketing initiatives.
Consider a non-traditional brainstorm session where polite discussion is encouraged. Often something unpredictable will occur that is pure gold. I’ve seen it work well when someone will put an idea on the table and others ask questions to test the idea; similar to the Socratic Dialogues we all did in our philosophy classes in High School or College … or not; anyway, some groups like this approach and come up with great ideas.
Assemble mixed creative groups, made up of people who have worked together before and people who haven’t. The addition of new faces and ideas can stimulate new thinking without the awkwardness of a group of strangers staring at each other for half an hour before getting to work.
Make sure your creatives have the opportunity for chance encounters on a regular basis. Steve Jobs famously put the only bathrooms at Pixar in the atrium so that coders and writers would naturally bump into each other and talk about their projects. Also, proximity helps facilitate creative collaboration. Consider giving your creatives spaces close enough to each other to foster ‘drop in’ creative sessions. For that matter allow for free expression within your teams work space. Allow your creatives to shape their environment to suit their tastes. It worked pretty well for the folks who inhabited Building 20 at MIT; Bose Corporation used it as an incubator; the first video game was created there; and, the ever popular, more.
Bring the group together and give them a task, discuss it for a short time then send the individuals away to work on it alone or in small groups of their choosing. After a time bring the group back together to discuss everyone’s findings.
When writing try taking the first idea that comes to mind and throwing it away. See, this idea is likely to be the same as everyone else’s first idea. Sometimes it’s good to throw away ideas 2 and 3 as well. By the time you’ve limited yourself to ideas 4 or 5 you’re really starting to get into new territory. See where it takes you, if it’s not very good you’ve still got 3 or 4 others to play with.
Thanks for watching, if you like what we’re doing here be sure to share it with your friends. I’d be very interested to hear your solutions for group creativity; just leave a comment on the blog or drop a line to the address on the screen. Now get out and do something.
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