Thinking Outside the Box

Posted on: June 20th, 2014

While attending a Networx event last week, I was provided with some insights from a panel of industry professionals on strategising outside the box and learning how to unlock the creative potential amongst your team.

Team brainstorming is an effective way to tackle a brief and to develop initial ideas. However, when your daily routine consists of making phone calls, answering emails and attending meetings, you need to shake up your environment to keep the creative sparks flowing.

So, here are five ways I learnt to establish the process of creative thinking within the workplace:

  1. Choose the right environment

The environment in which you hold a brainstorm can negate the creativity of those involved. While it’s an easy solution for most office workers, the boardroom can actually be quite lacking in inspiration. Avoid choosing a space that is stark and overly formal as it’s not conducive with generating free thinking.

  1. Clearly identify what you are brainstorming

Those participating in a brainstorm need to ensure they have a comprehensive understanding of what they are ultimately trying to achieve. This will assist in identifying the objectives, understanding the requirements and uncovering any key issues.

  1. Keep your brainstorms to a time limit

A great idea will come about when we least expect it. This often happens once you’ve digested the brief away from the office and have allowed for a relaxed thinking process. The duration of a brainstorm should last no more than 1.5 hours to ensure you do not over-complicate your initial ideas.

  1. Embrace the fear of embarrassment

Create a nurturing and open environment that makes people feel comfortable to contribute. Networx guest speaker Garry Bertwistle, author and founder of the Ideas Vault, acknowledged that before you take part in a brainstorm you already have one to three ideas in your mind. Often, you consider these initial ideas as unworkable and sometimes find it embarrassing to share these amongst the team. Garry advises that you should ‘embrace the fear of embarrassment as it’s important to remove these thoughts from your head ensuring that it doesn’t prevent creative thinking.’

  1. Appoint a facilitator for the brainstorm

Before starting the brainstorm session, decide on who will be facilitating. The facilitator should provide direction for the team, take notes of all ideas and then decide on the process for defining the criteria and implementation of the ideas.

Next time you have to respond to a client brief or develop a campaign, why not take yourself out of your daily environment and immerse yourself in a space that isn’t as constrictive as a boardroom? It’s a productive way to maintain enthusiasm, get creative and most importantly, think outside the box. A nearby cafe or park are a couple of suggestions to get you started…

Do you have any great venues or locations for brainstorming?

Blog post by Vanessa Liebmann

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