When we first started teaching creativity workshop in 1999 throughout Asia to people in the communications industry, some of the ‘Western’ concepts didn’t have a parallel word in some of the languages of our learners. We couldn’t use the words idea or brainstorm. It was like teaching someone to ride a bike but not being able to use the bike, pedals or tires.
At the same time, some of the creative problem solving methodologies we’d studied were too detailed to use in half-day workshops, while others didn’t fit the field of communications. For example, we wanted a phase which would help us define the core messages that the idea needed to convey.
Given the dearth of resources where we often had to create, design, facilitate and improve the curricula on airplanes flying between workshops in different countries, we cobbled together bits and pieces from a variety of well-known systems (such as the Creative Problem Solving Model, TRIZ and Synectics), from leading experts (Edward de Bono, Ng Aik Kwang, Anand Chhatpar and Dilip Mukerjea), and from a diverse group of organisations (such as the University of Cincinnati, Beijing University, University of Sydney Technology and the National University of Singapore).
The system we created is just seven creative steps – in reality, a series of questions where the value lies in uncovering the insights to create idea which achieve specific communications goals. We also grouped specific tools and exercises to each step, and used the overall process to outline a creative brief or template for brainstorming with their clients.
Prepare / Objective – What goal do you want the idea to accomplish or achieve?
Learn / Audience – Who is the primary audience you want to reach?
Isolate / Problem -What problem does the idea need to address?
Speak / Message – What are you going to tell the primary audience to change their mind?
Brainstorm / Ideas – How many ideas can you generate and nurture in a brainstorm?
Choose / Selection – How do you sort, evaluate and select the best ideas?
Package / Delivery – How will you sell the idea to others for implementation?