Brainstorms and beyond: adventures in the art of ideation

Brainstorms and beyond: adventures in the art of ideation

The last two years have challenged our collective creative spirit.

Most agencies thrived on bringing people together to spark ideas. 

After muddling our way through virtual creative sessions, and only just getting the hang of setting up breakout rooms, it’s no surprise that many of us lost our creative mojo.

But with most creative agencies returning to the office, it feels timely to ask: “is the traditional brainstorm really dead?” And if it is, what – if anything - takes its place?

Now we’re back together IRL, we’re seeing some peers thrive on the reignited collective creative energy, while others relished the relative solitude. How can we balance the two?

The rumblings around the death of traditional brainstorm (i.e. sitting around an office eating Haribo and trying to pluck ideas out of thin air) are nothing new. 

And many creative directors have shared their opinion on what makes for a better alternative – from tackling briefs in creative duos to going down the pub and shooting the breeze. Some believe coming up with great ideas is some sort of alchemy whilst others advocate a rigid creative process.

Google creative brainstorming tools and techniques and pages of articles, apps and advice comes up. But what actually works? In other words, what helps stimulate people to express ideas which are unexpected, original and ultimately deliver against the brief?

Creative director of Fever; Will Holloway and ECD of Fever, Nelson Bostock and Health Unlimited; Jo Chappel have embarked on a mission to find out. 

Over the next few months, this intrepid pair of creative directors will be trying out different tools and techniques.

These will range from the classic to the cutting edge, and they'll be sharing their findings with Creative Moment readers.

Starting off with the brainstorm; but not as we all know it.

Will and Jo will be trying out ‘brainstorming’ exactly as Alex F. Osborn set it out to be in 1953 in his book Applied Imagination: Principles and Procedures of Creative Thinking. 

Spoiler alert: Haribo sweets don’t feature (though they were invented in 1920) but a bright yellow room does. 47 brainstorms run the Alex Osborn way in 1956 were said to produce 2,000 ideas deemed to be of high quality and worth investing in so, if run in a certain way, the brainstorm might not be dead quite yet.

Will and Jo will share their verdict in the first instalment before moving onto some more avant garde techniques over the next few months. 

Follow their journey and if you have any suggestions of techniques to try out let us know (though we’re drawing the line at electroshock therapy for now!)

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