The world is but a canvas to our imagination
This is one of my favorite quotes from Henry David Thoreau. I often refer to it when I am struggling or in need of inspiration or motivation.
Imagination allows us to form images in our minds. We can recreate moments in time, adapt or modify those moments, or create new ones. We also can do the same thing with objects around us. We can form things that do not exist and simulate how they would function. Or we can replay what we have seen or change the way current things are used or function.
When Thoreau talks about the world being a canvas to our imagination, he is saying that we can take our dreams and bring them into the real world – make them tangible so others can see, hear or touch them.
In many ways, the world around is a canvas.
And like a painter, we each possess the tools to shape it.
Every move we make through the world is a brush stroke that shapes the landscape around us.
- Published in Creativity, Idea Building, Motivation
Time To Brainstorm Designed To Help Generate Ideas And Solutions For Businesses, Agencies And Entrepreneurs
Brainstorming is a process for generating ideas and solutions.
While there are many different ways to be successful at brainstorming, I was surprised to learn that many organizations, agencies, and people go about it the wrong way. They run sessions that encourage adoption of the first ideas mentioned, or only tap into a small number of people on a team – leaving the others to just follow along. The ending result is not true brainstorming, but an exercise with limited results. The process never lives up to its full potential, because it gets taken over by group-thinking, or people rallying around ideas shared by people who are popular in the office, or ideas they think management will approve of.
I’ve always been someone who loves to create. Whether it is alone, in a small group, or a large forum, I tend to see things around me and wonder if there is a better way.
In my marketing work, I have always looked at how a tactic or type of technology can deliver a better result.
As this year evolved, I started thinking more about how I could go beyond marketing, and use my interest in creating new ideas or new solutions to help businesses, organizations and people achieve better results.
This led me to studying how habits are formed, and how ideas are created.
A few months later, after extensive research, I realized just how powerful and valuable a well-done brainstorming session can be.
And now… A Time To Brainstorm has been born.
Brainstorming works best with total participation
At the core of brainstorming is the notion that each person participating generates their own ideas. Later, through a process that includes anonymous idea sharing and group discussion, ideas are expanded on in a group setting.
The goal of A Time To Brainstorm is to focus on creating the best possible environment for people to generate ideas that can be used to advance their business, agency, or organization, or even their own personal goals.
In each session, my team and I will strive to reduce roadblocks to contributions, stimulate everyone to encourage broad participation, and work to generate a large outflow of divergent thinking – so every stone is upturned, and all ideas are on the table. After all, the craziest sounding ideas are sometimes the best.
What we can do to help your organization or team
Think of what we can do in a simple process:
Preparing a group for a brainstorming session requires a comfortable meeting environment. Sometimes, getting out of the office can be a real positive step. We can work with you to determine how much information and pre-session preparation your needs to have. Individual research or smaller team meetings can help get the juices flowing, but we want to make sure we do not create roadblocks to idea creation. We also will help identify the right people to attend the session (the right balance of diverse perspectives and backgrounds is important). When the brainstorming session is ready to take place, we make sure everyone is warmed-up and ready to get going. And as the session progresses, we assign non-contributors to capture all ideas, and make them constantly visible to everyone.
We will discuss your goals, the personalities on your team, your target customer audience, and competition (if relevant) to help create the best structure for your brainstorming session. However, one of the most important aspects of a brainstorming session is what takes place before the session – the research and individual preparation. We have a system to prevent group-think and anchoring – where one or a few ideas get discussed and no creative expression takes place. Our team will create a detailed plan that provides all the steps your employees / team-members need to follow to ensure total participation, and idea sharing. The structure we create will go a long way to ensuring you get the most value from brainstorming.
A brainstorming or ideation session needs both a guide, as well as managers who are NOT part of the idea creation process to help the discussion be a success. The last thing you want is someone on your team who you need as a contributor to not participate because they had to manage the room, or record results. We not only keep a highly detailed record of all discussion and interaction, but we connect everything together in a final report that can be used by your organization and its leadership to act on all ideas that your team-members come up with.
Lastly, we take all the information we have collected, and create an actionable report that includes all the ideas, as well as recommendations for the next steps.
If this sounds like something that would be of interest to you and/or your organization, let me know at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Published in Creativity, Idea Building
Companies Need To Focus Data Collection On Identifying And Forming Consumer Habits
Companies are very fixated on the concept of loyalty. Loyalty, or faithfulness or devotion, is an emotional state that is extremely difficult to quantify. Instead of using the term “loyalty” we should be using the term “habit” and measuring the habitual response of consumers.
This ties into big data and market intelligence.
Companies need market intelligence but they also need strategies to help identify habit-forming moments in their target demographics as well as how to help form habits with consumers when those opportunities present themselves. The reason being is that a majority of consumer behavior is driven by habit – right around, if not more than 50%. It is much higher, for example, in women over 40 (75% of women form buying habits to 49% of men). This means that a majority of purchases are made through subconscious habits, which make it harder for alternative habits to form (or in other words, for alternative products and services to break in and win over a consumer).
Thinking on the consumer side (though this can be applied to B2B and B2G offerings), if consumer product manufacturers and/or retailers can identify the moments when new habits can be formed and target consumers at those times, they will establish longer-term customer relationships.
If you are depending on people to make a conscious decision to change their habit, then you need some kind of trigger or consumer pain. Great salesmen are very skilled at identifying pain points. But from a data perspective, think about how a company’s aggressive data collection of a competitor’s online reputation can yield a trigger for a change in consumer behavior? If you know a product or service is not performing well, you can target solutions and try to force a change in habit. This is using data to be disruptive to existing habits and create new ones.
Looking at it from the consumer side – say you are supermarket and you knew that a man was waking up every day at 5 am for a swim workout. You could use geotargeting through a mobile device to identify healthy ways that person could recharge and send them a personalized deal set. The daily deal concept for example, which is strictly price driven and not habit-forming, gets turned on its head because now the merchant has access to a habit forming moment and can use target deals to hook the consumer and then build the habit going forward. Instead of a one-deal for all, you are now using technology to identify consumer habits and create new habits going forward.
With the growth of data collection allowing companies to measure virtually every moment of our lives, there is no reason why companies should be offering cookie-cutter deals or why as consumers we should accept them.
- Published in Idea Building, Marketing, Mobile
Let yourself be creative and talented
Creativity and talent are essential elements to what makes us unique.
Despite what you may believe, every person has the ability to generate creative thoughts and to build new skills and talents.
In my view, it is one of the signature failings of our school system and our modern work environment that students and employees are not asked to dedicate time each day strictly to be creative, unleash new ideas or examine their personal and professional goals.
Here are two things I do everyday as part of my creative thinking and talent building:
- I spend about 20 minutes looking at new jobs. That’s right! Everyday! If I find something interesting, I copy and paste the skills required that I do not have and add them to a list. During the day I refer to the list to see if there is an opportunity for me to add a new skill. For example, one list is entitled “Advertising” and includes online and print advertising. Though I have done both in my professional life – there are still skills I want to gain and experience to earn.
- I spend 15 to 20 minutes reading about new companies. If I like the concept of a new company, I add them to a spreadsheet I created. As time has gone on, my list has emerged into this very cool layout of new business models, the challenges they seek to solve and the technology they are using. As I brainstorm business ideas that I want to pursue, this list helps provide a lot of perspective on what is being done, as well as what is working and what is not working.
What are doing to be creative and talented?
- Published in Creativity, Idea Building