Creativity techniques are thinking tools or methods to generate ideas or solve problems. They are also useful to uncover insights, and to create new products, services as well as brands and businesses.
Creativity techniques are business weapons
In a world that is fast-moving, and changing, seeing the world through new lens, or finding new solutions to problems requires new ways of thinking. History also abounds with businesses that failed to grow, because they failed to see a problem coming or failed to think differently. For example, from Kodak in analogue film, to Blockbuster in video, to Woolworths and BHS in retail.
Creativity skills can be learned
In many organisations marketers are the creative lead as they as they hold responsibility for communication development. In particular for advertising, literature and packaging. However, these skills are often bought-in and it is a myth that only marketers are creative. Creative ideas can be generated by anyone by using appropriate thinking skills (creativity techniques) and creating the conditions for creativity to flourish.
Creative thinking processes
Creativity is simply a thinking process; it is both an art and a science. Appreciating different ways of thinking also helps lift the lid on how creativity works and better understand how to apply creativity to a business. Understanding the principles behind the techniques also helps inspire new creativity techniques or processes. There are three main thinking processes though any one can be combined with any another and at any stage.
Whereby new solutions are inspired directly by the problem (Figure 1). To generate ideas to address the problem, start by expressing the problem and desired outcome clearly. Moderating a creative session of this nature is straightforward, though relies on the creativity of the team. Thus try and inject new impetus and ideas to sustain the process.
For example, by including different people in the process, and then combining them in different ways. Also, by combining different functional skills in small teams, and then passing the ideas from one team to the next for building. All adds energy and substance to idea generation.
Whereby a sequential analytical approach leads to a solution (Figure 2). While the steps in a linear thinking approach are usually analytical or logical they can also inspire. To do this, for example, reframe the problem, or change the conditions surrounding the problem, to make it easier to solve. For example, taking a challenge to hydrate skin. By reframing this as a challenge to hydrate another part of the body, whole body or another object. Or to re-express ‘hydration’; for example, as exposure or immersion in, a waterfall, dew, rain, snow, sand, or wind. Re-expression requires clear delineation and expression of each part of the problem. Then to analyse the individual elements and recombine them in new ways. Thus rather than conceiving a linear thinking approach as a series of analytical steps, conceive it as a series of inspirational steps. This therefore turns an analytical technique into a powerful creativity technique.
Whereby analysis of all facts, leads to the same conclusion or solution (Figure 3). While really the opposite of a creativity technique, this type of approach is reversible and useful to analyse a series of ideas or options, and thus determine which is best. The start-point is to take the possible solutions, and generate data or insights on the solutions. Then to assess the arguments for, and against, the solutions. Alternatively, to assess the ideas using a simple two axis matrix. For example, comprising the ease, doability, cost or speed of implementation of an idea, vs. the impact or effect of the idea on the business or brand.
1. Bar ‘creatives’ in creative businesses such as media and entertainment, marketing departments have unusual creative expertise and experience, compared with other functions. So use marketers’ strengths and skills to solve pressing business problems.
2. Marketers primary role is also to ensure the relevance of their offers. This invloves being vigilant to, and adapting to change, to secure future success. Thus it is opportune, and a natural stepping stone, for marketers to take the creative lead to help their businesses. Marketers should seize this leadership opportunity.
3. No one has a monopoly on good ideas, as everyone is able to think creatively. Thus marketers should engage their colleagues to this end. So create the conditions for creativity, and use the creativity techniques described above. First, dissect the problem, and then generate ideas. Next develop them into practical ideas, and finally to screen those ideas. Typically in a brainstorming session or marketing workshop. If you’d like help to do this, give us a call.