Friday, October 20, 2006

Creative Thinking: Try Ironing.

Ed Lee wrote a great piece a while ago on his blog on how his waistline was getting bigger with every brainstorm he attended. I agree with him, and moreover I challenge everyone to consider this -- are all these brainstorms really necessary?

Don’t we need to be creative every day for our clients? If we rely on sanctioned brainstorms to come up with every creative solution for our clients it can be taxing on the staff and burn up valuable resources.

So how exactly do you inspire creativity? I asked one of Canada’s leading creative directors, Lance Martin of the newly formed
Taxi 2, his opinion on the subject and here’s what he had to say:

My challenge to keep people working at their creative best is to find things that will inspire them. Films from interesting international directors, magazines from around the world or a new cutting edge website are great sources for a quick creative fix. As a Creative Director, it’s important for my team to see things outside of their usual scope. A new stimulus can push you away from your traditional pattern of thought and spark a new creative direction. That’s why, people have their best ideas in the shower. Breaking up your routine, permits the mind to wander off topic, allowing the subconscious to creep in, do the heavy lifting and solve the problem with a creative solution.

Lance is bang on. The notion of permitting the “mind to wander” nails it right on the head. I subscribe to his philosophy of inspiring creativity within myself and in fact I practice my own little rituals of “mind wandering” techniques besides taking a long shower.

The best creative ideas I’ve had, have not been inspired by a big group of people in the boardroom. Even those silly books on creativity, stimulus cards and there’s even a software program to help you harness the power of your right and left brain are all useless tools. It’s being alone with my thoughts; a clear unobstructed mind that allows new ideas and concepts to seep in and take over is a best practice I adhere to.

So, think it’s a bunch of hocus pocus? Well, it works. Trust me. Creating a blank palette in your head is harder than you think. We’re just so over stimulated; the mind is on overdrive most days it’s hard to focus on being creative.

The best way of loosening up my neurons is ironing! Try ironing bed sheets. It’s the most mind numbing experience and I love it. My mind floats away after two pillow cases and I can really start to think creatively and in the abstract.

Okay, please stop laughing. I know it works for me, in fact, I recently scored in the 93rd percentile in “creativity” on a Caliper Profile on which I was assessed on a number of managerial strengths and challenges. I was thrilled with that result and underscores my theory that ironing = creativity!


Ed Lee said...

here's the actual post -

I try to set aside 15mins per day to come up with an idea for a client. it'd not much but if everyone comes up with one idea per week for a client, they're more likely to be useful and executionable than some of the stuff we come up with in brainstorms.


Martin Hofmann said...

Hi Julie, I completely agree with you (and Ed) about not just relying on brainstorm meetings for creative ideas. But I think you are also dismissing the boardroom brainstorms a bit too quickly. If managed properly, they can accomplish a lot.

Inspired by your post, I've put together my own thoughts on brainstorming here: