Spark Creative Solutions with Four Ideation Strategies

Creativity.

It’s something we long to unleash. Some seem to do this effortlessly, with work that carries a distinct, resounding voice. Others labor tirelessly and produce merely a weak echo. Where some of us once flourished, now we flounder.

The good news?

It doesn’t have to be that way.

What does it take to beat back the ordinary and to release fresh, gripping, or exciting ideas continually?

4 Ideation Strategies to Spark Creativity

When you want to break out of creative ruts, ideation strategies offer a useful tool for challenging your habitual (a.k.a. BORING) ways of thinking.

Want to give it a try? Here are four exercises to enhance imagination for yourself or your team.

1. Green Lighting

Green lighting (or free-flow brainstorming) is often used in creative strategy sessions because the lack of censorship allows participants to generate a high quantity of ideas in a short, synergized session.

During a green light session, any wild or wacky ideas are welcome to be jotted on a group think board. Participants restrain from analyzing or critiquing options and instead try to build momentum by generating a large quantity of ideas or by collectively building on others’ ideas.  Green-light thinking sparks solutions you might otherwise overlook, releasing your team to much higher levels of creativity and productivity.

2. Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a graphical technique used to build a web of relationships.

Begin by writing a problem statement or a key phrase in the center of the page. Now encourage people to say solutions or ideas that come to their minds next. As new ideas are put on the board, participants connect their keyword “branches” by curves, lines, or vectors. Mind mapping transforms dull or tedious information into colorful, memorable patterns that can help flush out ideas, articulate hidden options, or generate collective solutions.

3. The “Anti-Problem” Exercise

Sometimes looking directly at a problem makes it harder to solve.

This ideation strategy encourages teams to turn the tables by defining an “anti-problem,” or a challenge that is the opposite of the real problem at hand. After articulating this concept, teams work together for a set amount of time to solve the anti-problem. Here teams may find inspiration by generating ideas still relating to the problem space, solutions than can then be “re-flipped” to bring them back into the realm of the true problem.

4. Mindset Spacing

Sometimes using physical space to reflect different thinking methods can propel your team to breakthrough.

For example, Disney’s creative team used to label four parts of a room for separate mindsets: imagining, planning, critiquing, and stepping outside a concept. Teams then gathered in each space with one target objective: perhaps an innovation to brainstorm or a process to improve. While dreamers practiced green-light thinking, planners tried to define the specs, timeline, etc. Meanwhile, critics and concept overseers analyzed weaknesses, defined missing elements, or addressed obstacles.

Challenge your team members to physically rotate between these “mindset” spaces and see if it brings new ideas to light!

Collectively We are Genius

Time to teach an old dog new tricks? They say that “collectively, we are genius,” so try out ideation techniques with your team and awaken imagination today!

Ideation strategies allow you to flow in a life-giving, streamlined environment, releasing ideas that are imaginative, strategy-driven, and smart. Need help with coming up with your next great idea in print? Reach out to us today.

Grow Creativity with the Brainstorming Strategies of Walt Disney

From Tarzan’s treehouse to the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Disney’s creative team has spent decades constructing fantasy lands depicted in Disney movies.

Bringing dreams to life is Disney’s business, and its empire spans 11 theme parks, a town, four cruise ships, dozens of hotels, and many waterparks and restaurants that help guests experience the happiest place on Earth.

The dreamers, or “Imagineers” at Disney are the brains behind the vision. Peter Rummell, who served as chairman of the Imagineers for 12 years, said creativity doesn’t just happen. It has to be engineered:

“It is a process and if you don’t understand that and if you sit around and wait for the lightning bolt, you’re not going to be very productive.”

Walt Disney himself was a master of creative thinking and brainstorming. Not only was he talented in discovering ideas, he knew how to convert possibilities into reality. One associate said this about Disney:

“There were actually three different Walts: the dreamer, the realist, and the spoiler. You never knew which one was coming to the meeting.”

Disney’s Strategic Brainstorming Techniques

Over time, Walt’s team used his own attributes for guiding thoughts to build parallel thinking in groups, while at the same time generating concepts, critiquing ideas, and solving problems.

NLP expert Robert Dilts helped bring the technique to life, like this:

  • Four parts of a room were set up for different thinking methods: imagining, planning, critiquing, and for stepping outside the concept. Arranging a physical space for each mindset prepared teams to switch from one thinking mode to another.
  • Teams gathered with a target objective: an innovation to brainstorm, a problem to solve, or a process to improve. While dreamers practiced unhindered green light thinking, planners used red light critiques to define the how, the timeline, or the plan.
  • Meanwhile, critics and the concept overseers analyzed weaknesses of the plan, defining missing elements, gaps in the process, or obstacles to address.

Rotating between spaces allowed teams to transition from unhindered passion to logical plans. Impossible ideas weren’t immediately squashed. And through this defined creative process, teams could generate solid creative ideas with an action plan to apply it. 

Unlock Creativity in Your Team

Though Peter Rummell has since moved on from the Imagineers, he says his time at Disney taught him three valuable lessons for guiding teams in creative thinking:

1. Entertain ideas from everyone.

“I think one of the major lessons I learned was that despite the hierarchy of an organization, an idea can come from anywhere.”

Top leaders should be willing to listen and younger team members should be encouraged that everyone has a voice.

2. Build an eclectic team.

“An accountant sitting next to a poet is a really good idea,” Rummell said.

High IQs are not pre-requisites to creative success. When teams are full of variety, often the least likely people can generate the best concepts. Varying skill sets help to energize the best ideas and to round out gaps in the plan.

3. Vet even the strangest ideas.

When Rummell’s team was brainstorming waterpark ideas, they were totally stalled.

“We didn’t want to do another Pirates of the Caribbean or some Caribbean island,” Rummell said. “We were trying to figure out what would be fun or different.”

Everything sounded silly until someone left for the bathroom and walked by a cubicle decorated in snowstorms. Though the idea of a freak Florida snowstorm sounded ridiculous, eventually the idea became “Blizzard Beach,” the theme of an entire waterpark in Orlando.

Creativity doesn’t just happen, so get resourceful and create some new brainstorming processes of your own. When you’re ready to roll out new concepts, we’ll help you bring them to life in print!