Why it is totally OK to be stuck in ‘the box’

door | 14 april 2021 | Blog

How do you organize high impact ideation and brainstorm sessions? Many brainstorms lead to ideas that never make it into a feasible concept or real project.

Why its totally OK to be Stuck in the Box – A visual story on creativity and innovation

Recognize the sound of a deflating balloon

Say you organized a brainstorm or ideation event and at first sight people come up with a good amount of promising ideas. But going to the next phase and presenting the ‘winning’ concepts, the energy seems to escape the room faster than you can do a 2 minute pitch.

Too much confetti

Many people know that you need to frame a brainstorm differently than your operational day-to-day meetings. But what I did not know – until I figured out what was going wrong with my workshops – is that there is something as too much out of the box. Too much out there, too much sky, and too little limits. The problem is not necessarily that you don’t get fantastic ideas and solutions. The problem is that they are not ‘appropriate’ ideas and do not perfectly fit the underlying problem. And this shows when you start building a (business) plan.

Ideas need pressure

In my experience, ideation or the creative problem solving process much resembles a chemical reaction. There are solid stable ingredients and problems that go in, and by means of pressure and energy, ingredients must let go of their current structure and take on a new combination and or form. The new idea ideally carries part of that energy. Time, resources, design constraints, societal challenges, and even a positive ecological footprint, can all be used as instruments to increase the pressure. The more specific the better.

Use the box to increase pressure.

So I would say, leave people in the box if they like it there. Focus on setting objective and critical constraints: facts, data, problems and a tight agenda. Add valuable ingredients, alternatives, cross-overs, ideas, random inspiration and creativity. Now let the team solve the puzzle and escape the problem.

Follow the energy

Still you will get many ideas, of which only a few will be valuable and feasible. But by setting constraints there is a higher chance of harvesting a diamond every now and then.

#ideation #innovation #creativity #brainstorms #teamwork #creativeproblemsolving #workshops #designthinking #visualthinking #sketchworks

Puck ten Kate is Visual Consultant, Illustrator and Trainer. Sketchworks is the blog in which she shares theory and experience about innovation and creativity to support bright design.

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