Let Your Creativity Shine: 4 Ways to Find Your Diamond in the Rough Ideas

March 1, 2015

Eddie Newquist

Eddie Newquist- Eddie Newquist is Chief Creative Officer at GES. He’s an award-winning creative executive, designer, filmmaker and inventor with three patents and counting! He’s best known for his work on some of the world’s most successful entertainment franchises including Harry Potter, Cars, The Terminator and Jurassic Park.

We all have those mornings… You wake up, the solution to the work-related problem is there, no effort required. Unfortunately, some of the best ideas don’t emerge on their own, and let’s be honest, life isn’t always that easy. And like a rough diamond, the good stuff might be there, but it’s going to take a bit of effort to make it shine.

Brainstorming is the best method for digging up those gems that WOW your clients and make your boss relieved to have you on their team. Here are four ways you can ensure you get the most from each of your brainstorming sessions:

1. Invite Your Client- We typically have our clients fly into our California offices. Between the nice weather, change of scenery and the opportunity to work in casual attire, it gives them a chance to relax. Having clients participate in the brainstorming means getting them to commit to several hours of rolling up their sleeves and working toward the best idea possible.

2. Play a Game- Brainstorming is all about developing group communication and creativity. The goal is to eliminate the “blocking” of ideas and find as many potential options as possible. Nothing leads to creative communication better than doing something fun like playing a game. I find that two specific games get the best results. The first is the “Ultimate Game,” which involves taking dozens of words that relate to the sphere of what your product might be, writing them on cards and sticking them on the left side of the wall. Then, you discuss these words with your client and pinpoint which ones elicit the strongest response. You move these words to the right then do it again, discuss this cloud of words and narrow it even further. After a few repetitions, you end up whittling it down to the few keywords that target the core message. After you’ve found that core message, you move the group to a different room or setting for another game we call “Ban the Bazookas.” This game involves taking experts from all levels of your client’s company (from senior to junior) and having them fire away with every idea that comes to mind. By the end, your goal is to have the room looking something like an artist’s sketchpad, with ideas scribbled all over the place.

3. Storyboard- With the games, your goal should be to open up discussion, get words flowing and ideas on paper. Next comes putting a visual element to these ideas. This means taking some of the most exciting concepts that arose during “Ban the Bazookas” and putting a face to the name, so to speak. Once again, you should keep things casual; the visuals can be as simplistic as stick figures. The whole point is to give the group 20 or 30 ideas to look at. What starts out as the most basic sketch could eventually turn into an elaborate rendering of a 100,000-square-foot project, but it all starts with putting pencil to paper.

4. Practice a Mock Brainstorm- Teaching your team how to achieve the most effective brainstorm is sometimes best done through practice. A mock brainstorming session is a great opportunity to learn the process and exercise your collective imagination. This involves making up a fictitious client with an imagined set of project goals. Let’s say this imaginary client has a wearable sensor company, and he wants to set up an event at the next South by Southwest. Think of all the details to make this project as real as possible (timelines, funding, etc.) Then, go through the brainstorming process exactly as you would if the client were in the room. These sessions will give you a chance to get used to talking, hosting, scribing and leading real brainstorms. During these activities, remember to be acutely aware of blocking, which could quickly stifle the team’s creative juices. To protect against this, never criticize some ideas and reward others.

This method will give your clients a chance to speak freely about their ideas and help you bring them closer to their visions. Remember, the goal is to keep things casual and everyone involved should have fun. There should be no pressure, deadlines or dollar commitment.
Your client is used to carting those things around with them, but during a brainstorm, they’re left on the doormat. Inside the room, it’s all about freedom. And it’s that freedom that allows for the flexibility that leads to great ideas.

How do you facilitate better brainstorming sessions with your clients? I’d love to hear your ideas to use in the future! Please share them below.

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