The Creativity Math — 7 easy steps to figuring out creativity
It’s 8 o’clock in the evening. Agency is going through yet another pitch process. Trying to be really, really creative. Trying really hard — in the end, if they manage to think of a great idea, they will get the job, right?
Everybody is sitting in the conference room, brainstorming the hell out of their brains. Someone just gets up to get another coffee. Another colleague really has to go to the bathroom. In five minutes, someone else has a great idea that they should order pizza. “Oh yes, and we should get some beer, it will help us!” adds another team member.
Four hours later, it’s midnight. Results:
- 12 beercans opened
- 9,5 beercans finished to bottom
- 7 espressos drunk
- 4 jumbo pizzas eaten
- 2 memorable jokes made for team building
- 1,5 creative idea — not that much different from the one that was already on the table at 8 o clock.
Figuring out creativity
We believe all of us, creative agencies’ people, know this situation far too well. In our creative tech agency, we love pizza, we love beer, but we tend to avoid this situation as much as we can. Why? Because we realized that with these situations we were getting fatter, not more creative and actually our company balance was not growing in the same rhythm as empty pizza boxes were piling up.
Numbers never lie.
Speaking of numbers — in that very moment we realized — can we be more strategic about our approach to creative thinking tools — or in other words more mathematical?
Clients hire us for various services. When the service is web or app development — we easily assess how much hours we’re going to need to get the project done. Can we do the same when the service is “creative concept”. “Of course, we can” — everybody will say — “we have a defined price for that.” But how profitable are your creative concepts? And how profitable are they for your clients who in good will, are paying you, to be most productive with best possible output?
Our approach to creativity
We started small. No groundbreaking decisions. But the first results were groundbreaking.
First decision we made — no brainstorming process longer than 90 min. Let’s face it. After 90 minutes, nobody in a meeting can hold their full concentration together. If we are not satisfied with what we have after 90 minutes, we cut off the meeting and schedule another slot after everybody has had time to think about the matter, rest and do everything else they need.
Second decision — when we are in a brainstorming process — we are really in a brainstorming process. We don’t comment on the ideas — we really storm our brains out. And we do it in a structured way. We use various creative thinking tools to have a structured brainstorming process. Some work better, some worse. We test, we probe.
Third decision — we reflect on our creative process. We discuss what could have been better, how we felt during the process and within that — we get creative again. We develop our own creativity tools and techniques.
One of these tools, came as a result from above mentioned approach and again, well — math.
We were asked to come up with a name for a product we were prototyping for the client. Client, having a scarce budget was not able to hire us for the whole G2M strategy process but was honest: “If you come up with a name we cannot resist, we will buy it.” So we knew, we had limited time resources if we wanted to turn this opportunity into a profitable one for our side as well.
And that’s how “Think — Pick” brainstorming tool was created. And here it is — step by step.
In the end, take 10 more minutes to reflect on the creative process, gather feedback for future, take one last look at the names and allow your team members to say now (or forever hold their peace) if they think that one name didn’t make the top 5 and they have strong arguments that it should be included. This step, finalized our list to a top 6.
- Step 4 is a true brainstorming process. Encourage your team to write any names that come to their mind — in this step there mustn’t be any reviewing.
- Timing is really important — allow laughs, positive atmosphere BUT, keep track of time and cut any excessive discussions.
- Close your eyes in step 6 — trust us.
- Interestingly, step 7 seems to be the hardest one — you will hear from your team members: “But I can’t choose only one!” — our advice, be strict in this step. Client also has to choose only one and it’s our job to nourish the same responsibility.
- Use technology — in step 5 — write all the names in a shared, online doc. Believe us — you will need only 10 minutes after the whole brainstorming process to package the names in your official template and send the proposal to the client. Make this time profitable for you as well.
Most importantly, this type of exercise will give all team members their spotlight and the opportunity to speak up — even the most quiet ones.
Our creativity math results:
- 9 team members
- 90 minutes
- 111 valid name proposals
- 21 very good name proposals
- 6 excellent name proposals
- 2 name proposals that wowed the client
Try it for yourself and let us know. Numbers don’t lie, right?
This article originally appeared in ENTG company blog.