When you’re stuck for concepts or solutions as I am quite often it helps to organize your thinking. Just sitting there and pushing can have a similar effect as it does when you’re constipated. It’s also helpful to think a bit before starting to create something. I use many different brainstorming techniques depending on my needs, energy, mood. Mind mapping out your thought process is a good way to collect thoughts and create connections or links between thoughts. A cool free mind mapping tool I started using is Free Mind. Don’t you just love people who share. Grab yourself a copy of freemind, or just a piece of paper and pull those illusive ideas out of their hiding places.
1. Identify problem
- What are we trying to achieve
- Objectives, aims, goals
- Define the problem from different angles
- Define the criteria for a successful solution
2. Highlight the known, obvious, straightforward stuff, and common keywords
- Ask & answer as many questions as you can
- Known information/data
- Type of product, service
- Target Audience
- Competitive environment etc.
- Obvious Key words & concepts associated to client/brand/service
- Keywords Associated with the problem
3. Make associations, extend thoughts
- Key ideas & words in different categories
- Follow thought patterns illogical directions
- Add more words which are linked to what you already have in some way
- Extend the obvious & known with “what if” type of thinking.
- Don’t be shy, be unconventional & silly.
4. Lateral thinking; go outside the known bounds or norms
- Taking info from point 2 & 3 and turning it upside down
- Redefine the elements and concepts you are discussing in new & more meaningful ways
- Redefine things in ways you’ve never thought of before
- Pick out weird & wacky characteristics of your goals, information and ideas and examine them as if looking at something through a microscope.
- Compare everything in front of you to things with very minor similarities
- Compare what you have with things completely unrelated
- Write down whatever happens to come out
5. Mixing, matching, combining & engineering key phrases, key ideas/concepts
- Taking all findings from 2, 3 & 4 and jumbling them
- cut & paste them together in random or thoughtful ways
- engineer phrases, structures, images made of these mixtures
- make sentences, write short stories, using all you have gathered
- highlight those which stand out from a conventional point of view
- highlight the good the bad
6. Discussing the initial outcome
- highlighting strongest elements from the previous exercises
- analyzing pros & cons of best options
- why good, why bad, what might be missing
- criticize, analyze
- pull them apart & put them back together
7. Best Choices
What you are left with should be the ideas which hold together throughout the process and those which evolve and become stronger. You may find that there are gaps or problems with what comes out.
Repeat if necessary!