How not generate ideas

February 21, 2019

A few years back I was sitting in a conference room, where we were supposed to generate a new name for a platform that was about to develop. Two of the managers were speaking and generating names, while all of the others set quietly and listened to their plans and ideas. It was not that we didn’t want to collaborate. They were just so loud that we couldn’t speak up. They continued talking and couldn’t find the right name, they found only 3 names. After 2 hours they turned to us and sad: everyone gives us one idea each, now. Pika go. I read one name from my notes and they said: No that’s not it. Marin, what’s your idea? They didn’t like any ideas from us. It is quite impossible to come up with a good original idea instantly and under pressure. It just doesn’t work that way.

After the meeting, I was assigned to come up with the name of the platform because I am the creative one. So I set down looked at my notes and generated more ideas, and more and more and more. At the and I had 4 pages of names and ideas eg. 100 names. Most of them weren’t any good but we ended up using one of them.

It is not true that you have to have a talent or a special ability to be creative and generate good ideas.

You just have to generate as many ideas as possible and beyond. And one of them will work.

Next time when we set down I asked if we could transform the meeting into a workshop. I brought a bunch of post-it notes and I designed a workshop where everybody could speak up. Of course, I had to ask several times some of the participants to shut up and let others speak. But in the end, we realised that the quiet ones were actually very creative. They came up with really cool ideas of the platform for renting your tools to other neighbours, shopping mirror for trying on online clothes, grocery shopping in the car… However, these ideas didn’t come out of anywhere. They listened to each other, borrowed bits and pieces from other ideas. It is really important that you don’t judge bad ideas but it is also very important to borrow, steal and develop ideas in a group. And also don’t forget to have fun.

No original idea is produced in a vacuum and you don’t have to be a “creative” superhero to come up with original ideas. In fact, the ideas made in a group of different people are even better because they are built on each other.

But there is a catch. You have to make them real. It does not help you to have the best idea in the world for generating money if you don’t make it happen. So try to find the right tools for building your idea and a team that truly believe in it. The first group of people that believe in the idea are the ones that developed it. But there might be others. It is super important that you talk about your idea. That you present it. And that you include people that are willing to collaborate.

Most of the meeting nowadays look like the first one where only one or two people are speaking. That is why we had to build ourselves a tool — Brainblender. A board game and a tool for creating original ideas in a group. It helps all participants to actively collaborate, borrow and steal ideas and develop one group idea.

The game starts when the team picks one question. Each player then writes one idea and presents it to other players. Then all players with the help of dice and weird directions make a lot of different variations of their ideas. After they have enough variations they have to blend them with one of the other players. From then on these two players develop ideas together until they blend with another player. The game ends when all ideas are blended into one final group idea that is built on the ideas of all players.

The first concept was made in Splitinteraction workshop lead by YKON group in 2012. It was raw and built in 3 days, from idea to prototype. But it worked.

We then developed it further and presented the Game across Europe and received some really cool awards for innovation and design.

Our game has come from a rough concept to a good looking board game. However, it still has some flows. The beautiful version with a box is very expensive and hard to make. So we built the less expensive Brainblender that are also easier to make but hard to transport and package. There are also some little improvements to make for the gaming experience, especially the onboarding part and we are thinking of making an extension that takes you from your final group idea to make this idea real.

I believe that by creating tools for creativity and collaboration we can actually make our lives more fun and meaningful.

That is why we started building our own tools and frameworks to push projects and ideas further. I have a dream of a better working and educational environment.

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