Being creative without saying a word
So, you have arranged an idea generation session involving 12 people who come from different parts of the company. It has been a real challenge trying to coordinate diaries. Three people have informed you that they will be half an hour late, two people have said that they need to leave half an hour early. Pre-reading has been sent out, but you know that it is likely to remain unread in people’s inboxes. You have managed to book a somewhat uninspiring space in room 206 on the third floor, and there is no natural light. And what makes your situation even more acute is that you are heavily reliant on the output from the meeting. This will contribute to one of your annual job objectives.
It does not augur well. It also does not show any insight into how the creative process works. Some people are more introverted than they are extraverted. Sessions full of endless discussion and debate tend to diminish an introvert’s creative energy rather than ignite it. Some individuals get inspired in locations other than the office. Getting your best ideas in the bath or whilst jogging in a park is not a myth. This is a fact based on neurological research-based evidence. And finally, it is unrealistic to expect a group of people to come together for a defined period of time and ask them to produce the silver bullet at 3.45pm in room 206.
There is a more effective and efficient way to operate.
A team of 5, 6 or 7 individuals form a virtual group and their mission is to provide remote assistance to one another when creative input is required. Each of them possess different creative strengths. Some are great Stimulators, always brimming full of thoughts. There are the Spotters who can pick the gems, the Sculptors who can turn the gems into concrete ideas, the Selectors who are good at picking the winners. And finally, there is the Supporter who has the strongest human empathy muscle and who really ‘gets’ the process and the people.
Emily emails out a clear brief to the rest of the group asking for some initial ideas. She would like to receive these within a week. She uses an online whiteboarding tool called RealtimeBoard that allows people to share their thoughts and ideas in a communal space. James is a strong introvert and he needs three or four days to digest the brief, take his baths and go for his runs, before he posts some ideas on to the ‘whiteboard’. Ian and Sarah are both equally strong extraverts and they find half an hour one afternoon to bounce a few ideas around before they too post stuff up on the ‘whiteboard’. A few days after issuing the brief, Emily sends out some images she has downloaded from Pinterest to provide her helpers with further inspiration and stimulation. More ‘post-it notes’ are ‘stuck up’, and many of them are embellished with electronic notes of explanation.
Emily, an introvert herself, then finds a quiet room, absorbs all the thoughts and ideas on the ‘whiteboard’, does a bit of clustering and manages to identify two or three big ideas. She uses RealtimeBoard once again to get feedback from her helpers, makes a few changes, and then invites Richard, the expert Sculptor, to use the ‘whiteboard’ to develop a compelling concept for each idea, using a combination of words and images.
The final task for the group is to review each of the fully sculpted ideas on line before voting for the one that they think is the strongest. Emily sends out her virtual ‘thank you’. Job done.
In summary, the introverts and extraverts are happy. Everybody has been able to contribute to the creative process in a way that matches their skill sets. Time has been used sparingly and efficiently. And most important of all, the outcome has been far more productive than it would have been in room 206.