How to have great ideas
Anyone can stumble on a brilliant idea. Or two, if they’re lucky. But some people seem to crank them out on a regular basis. This has a little to do with talent, and a lot to do with process.
The 5 step Ideas process describes the best way we know to solve business and communications problems.
Don’t be satisfied with the information you’ve been given – do your own research. Question everything. Get to know the target audience. What turns them on? What’s the latest and greatest in their world? Talk to people in the target audience if possible. What are our competitors doing? What’s happening in the category, locally and internationally?
Distill all the information you’ve collected into a short, workable document. Add value. What insights can be gleaned from the research? These insights should inform the strategy. Strategy is the art of sacrifice; of all the things we could say, what must we say?
When you know what you’re looking for, start experimenting with different solutions. Experimenting means opening your mind to fresh, original thinking.
Play. Be stupid. Be naive. Be ridiculous. Have fun. There’s plenty of time to be critical later.
Creative people have their own rituals and techniques to help them become more receptive to ideas. You have to find what works for you, but here’s a few examples to get you started.
Write down in a sentence what you’re looking for. Then rewrite it ten times, each time expressing it in a slightly different way. This helps you focus, and can open up more possibilities. Draw 20 boxes on a page and don’t get up until you’ve filled all of them with an idea. Go for quantity, not quality. Pick random words from a dictionary, and relate them to the brief. What seems like the right solution is usually boring. Try the opposite. Try to fail spectacularly. Meditate. When you get stuck, do something else. Play table tennis. Watch a movie. Have a bath.
Never let ideas escape. Have pen and paper nearby 24/7. Some of your best ideas will come to you on a bus, in the toilet, or in bed at 3 am.
And don’t fall in love with one idea. Keep going. Good is the enemy of great.
Go through your ideas with a critical eye. Narrow them down to just a handful. Try to translate each idea into a range of different media. When this is difficult, the idea probably isn’t that clever. Test your ideas on people you trust will tell you the truth. It’s perfectly clear to you what you want to communicate, but others may not get it.
Be brutal. Select the idea that best answers the brief.