Use The Power of Imagination to Boost Your Creativity

Man can create anything he can imagine.

Imagination—our ability to create images not available to the sensory system—is arguably our greatest faculty for evolving human consciousness. In order to transform ourselves and our world, we need to be able to leap out of the familiar and into the unknown.ideasNH

"Ideas are intangible forces, but they have more power than the physical brains that give birth to them. They have the power to live on, after the brain that creates them has returned to dust." Napoleon Hill, Think & Grow Rich

Imagination is Think and Grow Rich fifth step towards riches and success in life.  It is through imagination wherein desire is crystallized into reality. Mr. Hill discussed in this chapter how man’s only limitation lies in the development and use of his imagination. Even after more than 70+ years after Think and Grow Rich was first released in 1937 and 100+ years after the idea was born, it is still the source of motivation, inspiration and success principle for so many…

Sparks For Creativity

A Universe Of Possibilitiesidea

I am so frustrated when I hear people describe themselves as not creative. If you consider it, each sentence we utter is a creative act. In fact, every problem, every product and every moment in our lives is an opportunity for creativity.

I just picked up a book from Tina Seelig, InGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity, and she said something that really resonated with me: "Creativity is an endless resource, and we can tap into it at any time."

Innovation Enginemodel

Seelig offers a new creativity model, that she calls the "Innovation Engine," to explain how ingenuity is generated and fostered. Chapter-by-chapter she explains specific tools, techniques and conditions that together enhance creativity in individuals, teams and organizations.

Her approach to unlocking creativity is a holistic one. Her model has six parts – three that come from inside of you (knowledge, imagination and attitude) and three that are generated by the environment in which you live (culture, resources and habitat).

"These are not isolated factors. You have to look at them in concert," Seelig said.

Knowledge, imagination and attitude overlap and are internal because they reside in the mind. Knowledge is the toolbox for your imagination; your imagination is the catalyst for the transformation of your knowledge into new ideas; and your attitude provides you with the drive needed to push through difficult problems.

On the other side, culture, habitat, and resources are of the outside world. Culture, habitat, and resources influence the process by which imagination catalyzes the transformation of knowledge into ideas. Thus the individual and the environment are interdependent in interesting and non-obvious ways and essential for creative problem solving. 

Inventive Solutions

Seelig said both imagination and innovation can be fostered in a few simple ways.

Look at things from a new perspective. According to Seelig, we often allow our imagination to dwindle as we age. One of the way we do that, is by asking ourself constraining questions such as: 5 +5 = ?

“There is only one right answer. Really creative people don’t look at the world like this. They look at problems through different lenses and they reframe the problem,” said Seelig. Instead, creative people ask questions like this:  ? + ? = 10

Reframing the question this way, opens up the parameters and allows for an infinite number of inventive answers. 

Rethinking of failure as research. Even under pressure, you must not be afraid of failure, said Seelig. You can always gain knowledge from unexpected results. This way you won't won't fear being innovative, just in case things don't come out the way they are expected to. 

"We all have creativity within us," Seelig argues, "and there are endless opportunities to use it."

 Watch this TedX talk by Tina Seelig on unlocking creativity. Seelig will take you through her innovation model and the various components needed for creativity.tina

How to Begin a New Creative Project

My biggest idea-generation secret.

How do I begin to tackle a new creative project?

People always ask me how I "get ideas"…either so quickly, or so many… or for projects in areas and industries that are not even in my realm of industry expertise…the answer (and one of my secrets) is that I'm never in the position of starting a project or creative endeavor, from a "beginning". My starting points are often far ahead. I've already researched and gathered hundreds of relevant examples and ideas that are ready to use, look at, applied to whatever project comes up. My ideation process is separate from that actual creative project…it's an on going habit of absorbing and harvesting absolutely everything.idea

My trick is that I am ALWAYS on the look out for ideas, and when I'm not on the look out, I still capture and save things I see that might have potential. All the time, everywhere…When I'm gathering in this way, I don't necessarily look for ideas for a specific project…I look at anything I'm inspired by. From multiple industries and sources. And I save. This is something that has become one of my best habits, one that has helped me for almost every single project I've been part of. When the pressure is on for a new creative deadline, I start with taking inventory of my collections, and from there I can build and solve and create. Having that foundation of resources, or hooks (that I've already discovered and labelled as "a great idea" either yesterday or last year)..makes the initial creative process for a new project so much easier. 

As I am in the business of connecting and transforming, I tend to look differently. That is another habit I've perfected as well. I "sweep" really…My idea gathering has a flow. It's like the ebb of the ocean, a constant energy…the sweeping waves never really stop, they speed up, they explode, they slow down, but there is always that current force…As I'm always in this flow when a new project comes along, I rarely antagonize myself into "being creative". I'm already in it.

I think of ideas as my design tools and construction blocks rather than solutions to the problem. I never really understood the "aha" moment…or putting ideas on pedestals. The final concept is built with ideas, from many different sources…unlike traditional design tools… "idea tools" need to be refreshed – often – so that's why, besides saving – I keep harvesting - first thing when I awake, in between client work, while I'm watching a movie, in the car, at checkout lines…I capture what's going on in marketing, promotion, branding, design, shape, copy, fonts, layouts…and I save it.

Idea gathering is so important because ideas cannot be generated instantly when a project needs one. Ideas are formed from masses and piles of insight and inspiration, and thoughts…

Anyone who needs to find solutions to problems and think of new ideas should have an idea vault…not just "creatives". In my next post on this subject, I'll tell you fertile places I go to harvest for my idea vaults.

Creative Flow

Creativity is an adventurous exploration of ideas.

When something strikes a spark of curiosity… follow it. Creation is an exploratory path flowing through idea space, and the final creative work is only one of many paths through that space. Experience your own path in the world of idea space.

Creative work is not right or wrong. It's important to think completely openly when entering your creative challenge, letting your ideas express themselves. Enter with flow. flo

Every path leads to and provides a unique perspective from the whole of that space, so all paths are valid and worth consideration.  

No single path has all the answers. Some paths run in circles. Some are dead ends. Some lead to treasures. There is a point though in this journey where an almost magical feeling of connection occurs.

That final idea or destination is not better, although it might fit or feel better for your brand, or your specific campaign…It’s the creative journey itself that matters. 

The more paths and journeys we explore, the better the space is understood, the better we can see which ideas we should follow, and which are more valuable for your particular creative outcome. 

Do you have a particular way in which you enter into a creative journey? Have you found tools or spaces that work for you?

Here are some interesting links and articles I found on the subject of creative process and flow.
-Creative flow

-Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention

-Flow Experience

Unfolding (From the MDCG tool box)

At any point in a creative-thinking situation, alone or in a group, new solutions emerge when those involved force themselves to think in an arbitrarily different way.

Unfolding: Gradually unfolding the real problem from the outside. unfold

When to use it
Use it to create many different ideas.
Use it when people in the creative group are likely to be biased by preconceptions.
Use it to prolong the creative period, allowing a wide range of ideas to be created.

How to use it
Select a group of uninvolved people
- For your creative group, bring together a group of people who do not know about the problem. These can have expertise in the general area in which you are seeking solutions or may be generally creative people.
Explore the outer concept
- Do not tell them what the problem is. Tell them first about the outermost concept, or perhaps an analogous situation and ask for ideas around this, or just get a conversation going around it and what it really means.
Gradually unfold into the topic
- When the ideas or conversation has reached a suitable point, add further detail that moves things a bit closer to the actual problem. Repeat the discussion or idea creation from the previous step.
Gradually, one step at a time, unfold the discussion into the main problem topic. By the time you reach the end point, you will have explored far more widely than if you had dived straight into the problem.

I am seeking ideas for the company summer picnic. I start the session with a discussion about motivation, then discussing the company as a family, involvement of employees' families and what family groups enjoy doing. This results in a deeper understanding of the overall problem. Thus the idea for a picnic turned into a weekend camp, where people could get to know each other better and the company as an extended family grows and becomes more diversely cohesive.

How it works
When people know about a problem, they cannot help but bring along a whole set of subconscious biases about the situation. The mind focuses on the areas in which it is comfortable, seeing familiar patterns and missing things that could be important.

MDCG has a series of tools for creating ideas, by exploring different methods of thinking that will help those who use them produce surprising and useful results. I will be posting techniques, tools and methods from our series regularly here, so check back often!


Absence Thinking (From the MDCG tool box)

At any point in a creative-thinking situation, alone or in a group, new solutions emerge when those involved force themselves to think in an arbitrarily different way.

Absence Thinking: Think about what is not there. tool

When to use it
Use it when you are stuck and unable to shift thinking to other modes.
Use it when you want to do something that has not been done before.

How to use it
Think about what you are thinking about, and then think about what you are not thinking about.
When you are looking at something (or otherwise sensing), notice what is not there.
Watch people and notice what they do not do.
Make lists of things to remember that you normally forget.
In other words, deliberately and carefully think about what is absent.

An artist draws the spaces between things.
A market manager for a furniture wonders about product areas where customers have made no comment. She watches them using tables and notes that they leave the tables out when not using them. She invents a table that can be easily be folded and stored.

How it works
The psychology of thought is such that we are very good at seeing what is there, but not at all good at seeing what is not there. Absence Thinking compensates for this by deliberately forcing us to do what we do not naturally do.

MDCG has a series of tools for creating ideas, by exploring different methods of thinking that will help those who use them produce surprising and useful results. I will be posting techniques, tools and methods from our series regularly here, so check back often!


The Creative Process Has Five Stages

A structured process for creativity in advertising

Creative advertising can be seen as a combination of creative strategy and creative tactics. Where creative strategy constitutes deciding what the advertising message wants to convey while the creative tactics deal with how the advertising message is to be executed. Experts view the creative advertising  process to be exactly like an assembly line- organized, sequential, controlled and efficient. Using process models for creativity in planning strategy can be useful since they offer an organized approach to creative problem solving. 

Pioneering creative process theorist Graham Wallas believed creative insights and illuminations emerge from a five-stage process. There are several process models used in brainstorming creative ideas, this one from Wallas I particularly like, and feel the stages he's outlined have been my process too. 

1. Preparation (assimilating content and knowledge, preparatory work on a problem, exploring the problem’s dimensions) - Fact-Finding

2. Incubation (where the problem is internalized into the unconscious mind and nothing appears externally) - Problem-Finding

3. Intimation (the creative person gets a “feeling” that a solution is on its way) - Idea-Finding

4. Illumination (insight where the creative idea bursts forth from its preconscious processing into conscious awareness) - Solution-Finding

5. Verification (where the idea is consciously verified, elaborated, and then applied) - Acceptance-Finding


Creativity is contagious, pass it on

Creative expression typically offers no guaranteed results… and sometimes it doesn’t come with a clear yes.

We may think we have a clear vision when we finally begin, but as we give it voice or form, we learn that it begins to take its own shape, and often it is somewhat different than how we first envisioned it. That’s one of the beautiful things about creative expression, if we can simply learn to enter this flow and allow our idea to show us the shape that it wants to take. 

What would it be like to simply go with the flow of change in life, take risks, and remain curious about the outcome?


Be an Idea Magnet

Great post from Copyblogger: Never save a good idea. When I know I have many creative deadlines to meet, it is tempting to “save” a few good ideas for later. New ideas will always come so always give your best ideas.

Ideas really are everywhere. You’ll probably find that some of your best ideas come when you are doing something completely unrelated to the idea itself…so record your ideas on the go! Liz Strauss says "The art is in training your mind to see the ideas and pull them in before your thoughts pass by them–to make your mind into an idea magnet of sorts."

Escapism in the Arts

Creating compelling magnificence and intrigue. Looking into the enchanting, elegant and grand world of escapism as it is encapsulated in art, design, fashion, creating a dream like hope for the future.

There has always been a place and a need for distraction in our lives, but today, in the face of anti-consumerism, the idea of escapism seems particularly relevant.

What if you treated your product/brand like a theater and users like the audience?

A great story has a tight plot and holds everyone spellbound. Thinking like a director during the design process is a great tool for helping guide the user’s attention. Give out the popcorn and raise the curtain!

So what’s your story?

“Narrative” becomes a key theme for the future; the creative art of storytelling is no longer window dressing, but a means of appealing to the consumer and supporting their cause, their  identity, and their values. Does this indicate a need to find a whole new brand identity or simply find a tale worth telling?

Consumer spending is at an all time low as the economic crisis continues, and so it seems that designers and producers are now looking towards fantasy and entertainment to inspire consumers...

…be it the decadent grandeur of the stage, the vivid kaleiscopic experience of the circus, or the timeless elegance of the ballet; and bringing fashion and design into the realms of fantasy and creativity, mystery and imagination. This need for narration, nostalgia and the exploration of intrigue is being felt in many artistic disciplines, ranging from music to art.

Fashion is certainly taking a leap into escapism. Retail and runway collections are beginning to absorb the influences of dance and circus.

Italian designer Salvadore Ferragamo has embraced the world of ballet, uniting primo ballerino Roberto Bolle with and super model Claudia Schiffer in a recent campaign.

Prestigious ballet companies are partnering with architects, encapsulating fluidity and movement, renowned fashion designers are taking a position at the heart off the theatrical arena.

Theater provides the audience with a window though which to escape the troubles of today focusing only on the enjoyment of the stage.

Micro-blogging service Twitter and London’s Royal Opera House may not be seen as birds of a feather. Founded hundreds of years apart, one represents a stronghold of traditional high culture, the other the fizzing surface of contemporary communication. But the tendency of culture to respond to new technology should never be underestimated—over the past three weeks the ROH has been using Twitter to crowdsource the libretto for a new “people’s opera”.

What story allows for the experiences and memories of the viewer, (as in a good mystery), to ‘fill in the blanks’? And what can Brands give to the consumers through their product personas/features as stimulus for the “discovery”? The challenge lies in that our society is saturated with ‘reality’ how can we take products and refresh them into an alternative reality? Maybe that magical capture is in the consumer becoming involved with the storytelling.

In the collective imagination, great ideas take flight.