Brainstorm sessions strike fear into ‘creative’ minds

David Crisp (DW 23 June) has never produced a worthwhile idea in a brainstorm session ? Is this a reflection of how badly the sessions were run, or his own creativity?

Often the people who earn their living as ‘creatives’ struggle to perform within the confines of a brainstorm session, where they are under the close scrutiny of ‘non-creatives’.

Clients and creatives alike are tired of the brainstorm, usually because the routines they are put through are hackneyed or embarrassing. They resent giving up their time, can predict what they are going to be put through (questions such as: ‘How many uses can you think of for this paperclip?’ or ‘If this brand was a person what kind of trousers would it wear?’), and come to the conclusion that little or nothing will come of the day’s efforts.

Good brainstorms are run to generate worthwhile ideas (and that might include getting ideas out of non-creative people who have access to other knowledge about a business or the problem at hand). Fully fledged and finished solutions do not come out of brainstorms. As Richard Murray says in his Private View (DW 16 June) ‘creative people find a way to put their ideas into practice’. All ideas need developing and nurturing and of course they should be refined and tested.

The confusion appears to be defining the difference between creativity (the implementation of ideas) and

creative thinking. Creative thought does not belong exclusively to designers, nor can designers kid themselves that they can work in isolation to produce worthwhile solutions. Brainstorming is not a replacement for true creativity and the charlatans who dress up sessions that purport to train anyone in creativity do us all a disservice.

Creativity may be misunderstood by many people, inside and out of the ‘industry’, but the more we try to dress the creative process up with some mystique or make design some exclusive, elitist club, the more we leave ourselves open to ridicule and exploitation.

Great brands might live in the Room of the Unknowing, but unfortunately so do most of the rest of us. Open up your minds.

Andy Kirk


Nine Yards Brand Consultants

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