Idea Processes: My Thesis Continues!

TWO posts in as many days! I’ve been feeling extra-energized this week, so I pumped this one out on my lunch break. Looks like someone’s been eating their Wheaties.

This post is a continuation of my thesis and revisiting some of the main ideas. Today we’re talking about:

Idea Processes.

Within a creative working culture (and advertising specifically) all work is focused on one thing: the idea. Creatives and non-creatives alike have an absolute lust for ideas. However, being entirely reliant on such an ephemeral resource can cause many problems!

What happens when ideas aren’t to be found? Do ideas stem solely from inspiration? Are ideas the product of a moment of clarity, or can they be manufactured? Is it possible to train oneself to routinely channel ideas?

One of my favorite thinkers on this subject is James Webb Young. James [yes, we’re on a first-name basis now] believed that there is a way to stimulate creativity and produce ideas with routine success. In A Technique for Producing Ideas, Young outlines five steps that not only lead to finding that illusive idea, but can also streamline the process and allow for more creative flow. This is what these steps boil down to:

1. Gather Raw Materials.

In this stage, it is important to become as knowledgeable as possible in the problem presented. Leave no stone unturned, and do your research.

2. Digest the Information Gathered.


Make new connections between seemingly disparate things. Turn things over, flip them around, make new relationships from old connections. (Image via Reardonk)

3. Get away from the problem.

Drop the subject entirely. Young recommends listening to music, going to the movies, reading, doing anything to take your mind off the issue. This step lets the creative unconscious work over the problem.

4. The “aha!” moment.

This step is a result of the synthesis of raw materials, leading to a new solution for the problem. This is the stage in which the idea strikes, often described as a blinding moment of clarity or a sort of “aha!” feeling.

5. Shape and refine the idea.

This is when the idea is applied practically to the situation and either sinks or swims. This also is often the point at which you return to the beginning of the process!

Extrapolating that third step, it’s obvious that setting and  fun can be vital components of idea processes.
How can advertising agencies engineer the space for this kind of creativity to strike?

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2 thoughts on “Idea Processes: My Thesis Continues!

  1. Pingback: What makes for satisfying work? « Erin Davis

  2. Pingback: How does your office contribute to collaborative atmospheres? | Erin May Davis

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