We haven’t got all day to come up with a good idea!
Creating valuable new ideas in no time at all.
Slide notes from Philip Morley, creative director at 90 Minute Clinics. www.90minuteclinics.co.uk from a presentation on 11th July 2013
1. Too busy to think?
We have convinced ourselves that we have no time. !
!This might be something to do with the fact that we have allowed ourselves to be interrupted, twenty-four hours a day. And that, according to Harvard Business Review, we
spend about a third of our day managing emails.
!The distinction between work and home life has pretty much disappeared thanks to smart devices, the Cloud and remote working practices.
2. Learning from sprinters.
Sprinters do one thing in a deliberate and concentrated way.
A 100m runner isn’t concerned with the crowd or the materials the track was made from. He or she just runs.
Sprinting isn’t cheating. It’s doing something quickly without distraction.
A sprinter couldn’t sprint all day. It’s all about short bursts of energy.
We can learn something from this: in order to do something quickly, we have to eliminate distractions and make a deliberate and concentrated effort.
3. One man band versus violinist.
Multi-tasking is the process of doing a few things at the same time moderately well.
We may think we are saving time by multi-tasking but it usually means we take longer.
A one man band may impress us with the ability to multi-task but if you want to be impressed by a musician, you need to observe a specialist.
A concert violinist would probably be useless on drums or piano.
Once again, the key is doing one thing very well, rather than trying to do too much.
4. The secret of air traffic control.
What is the similarity between a Heathrow air traffic controller, a concert pianist and many other professionals who are engaged in an activity that requires mental vigour?
This is the duration of an air traffic controller’s shift and a musician’s practice period.
This is because our brains work in ninety minute cycles.
This repetitive cycle is called the Ultradian Rhythm.
Nobody can stand more than ninety minutes of vigorous thinking without a break.
5. How long is a piece of string?
Instead of moaning about lack of time we should be focusing on what we can achieve in the time we have.
Knowing the length of our piece of string will dictate what we can do.
If the piece of string is short, we obviously can’t spend lots of time crafting ideas. But we can generate them.
There’s plenty of time for that if we have a process.
6. What are the main things we’re thinking about at work?
Idea generation - thinking of new ideas.
Decision making - are we about to do the right thing?
Communication - are we being clear?
To concentrate on each or all of these, we need processes.
7. Impressionism, not photorealism.
When we are in the early stages of thinking, we are interested in broad brush strokes. We shouldn’t rush to judge ideas.
Killing ideas at birth is the biggest threat to new thinking. It’s like throttling ugly ducklings that may, eventually, turn into swans.
Give every idea a chance. And think of as many as you can.
8. Are lots of heads better than one?
No. Not necessarily. There is something to be said for thinking together but that doesn't mean you can’t do it solo.
Group sessions can achieve results quickly but groups can also slow things down.
Brainstorming is - in my opinion - one of the slowest ways of thinking as a group. There is no process.
9. The three Ps.
Before we do anything, we need to adopt the right frame of mind.
We need to be positive. Being optimistic builds energy levels and expectation. Being negative slows things down.
We need to be playful. Even if the subject matter is dull, why can’t we have fun? This moves things along more quickly.
We need to be prolific. Idea generation, at the outset, is about volume, not quality. Quality is something that comes along when ideas are being examined and developed.
10. Look through a child’s eyes.
Children between 7 and 11 lose their egocentricity.
Simply put, they begin to care about what other people think. They start to become inhibited.
Children think anything is possible. Adults think many things are impossible. Their perspective is shaped by a lifetime of failure and being proved ‘wrong’.
No idea is ‘wrong’ at birth.
11. Offices are boring.
Most offices are awful places to think.
So, go for a walk. Think somewhere else. Rather than be depressed about your environment, change it.
12. Think visually with Post-it Notes.
Post-it notes are a brilliant tool for thinkers. They allow ideas to be recorded and moved around.
They’re a wonderfully analogue way of working.
13. Get rid of the Bic.
Ideas = broad brush strokes. Not scratchy little lines with a biro.
Invest in some decent markers and work on big sheets of paper.
Sharpie and Pentel make good markers. Good paper is expensive. Lining paper is cheap.
14. Generating new ideas.
Random input is the key. You need a focus - a destination - but in order to think differently, you need to start in an unusual place.
You can use pictures and words as a starting point but even music lyrics work.
This is a Lateral Thinking technique. Read Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono, who originally coined the phrase. It means thinking sideways. Or read about Sideway, my 90 Minute Clinic dealing with this.
15. Making your mind up.
Making decisions is hard because there are many things at play. Separating out these strands helps speed up the process and leads to amazingly different results.
This is parallel thinking, intrinsic to the Six Hats technique invented by Edward de Bono.
Read Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono or look at the Clinics website where you’ll see this technique used in the Spectrum workshop.
16. Listen to yourself. The best way to write.
Get a dictaphone and say what you were going to write. I would recommend an Olympus one - it plugs straight into iTunes.
Communicating isn’t about literary skills. It’s about plain English and clarity. Communication is spoken English written down.
Conclusion: there’s enough time to think.
Whether or not you are ‘time poor’ (yeuch), you can be ‘idea rich’ (yeuch).
You just need the right processes.
Thinking is a process and a skill, just like serving at tennis. Anyone can learn it and be better at it.
Eh, Andy Murray?
Thank you. Please visit www.90minuteclinics.co.uk