One question we get a lot is how we come up with new ideas, whether for magic acts, performance presentations, marketing or publicity.
Any Commerical Creative Artist or agency needs to have skills in creativity and innovation. While there is a latent amount of creativity within the team, skills have to be developed and honed. These skills are not natural acquired although some people’s instincts will be higher than others… as with any other skill in life.
Concept:Magic’s creativity techniques have been developed over 10 years of academic research and more importantly, practical implemental. Over the years, I have also conducted and facilitated creative workshops and talks in plenary sessions for corporate audiences to share my innovation techniques.
At Concept:Magic, we adopt a specific approach when generating ideas for illusions, performances or campaigns. Here is a basic overview of how we go about our creativity process:
Identify the Problem
This may seem obvious but it is surprising how many teams go into idea generation without having a clearly defined goal. The well-defined “problem” will also help keep you on track when generatng ideas.
For example, when we develop a project for a client, we always ensure we (as well as the client) understands the objective of the project. For e.g., if the project is an illusion for a launch, questions to ask include:
What is purpose of having us involved in the launch? To create a high impact reveal of the product, impress the guests (general audience or trade media), involve the CEO/ VIP, bring “celebrity” and “glamour” to the event etc.
So, as an illusion for a single launch event could have so many possible purposes, it is important to find out exactly that purpose is in order to even start the idea generation process.
This is the starting point of the creative process and there are several principles that guide us when starting this process.
First, you must not put limitations during the idea generation process. No idea is too stupid, ridiculous and crazy. In fact, the more crazy the better. Do not impose restrictions such as budget, time, resources or feasibility on idea generation. Crazy, funny, seemingly impossible ideas are welcomed and often spark inspiration for the final solution.
The purpose of idea generation is to come up with multiple ideas and not dwell too much on exact details.
While there is a certain amount of free play in idea generation, it is tough to pull ideas out of the air just like that. So, good stimuli is essential for idea generation. Whether it is a stack of magazines, a unique “creative” environment for idea generation (like IKEA or a shopping mall), random websites or product catalogues, these stimuli will help jumpstart your brain.
Bouncing ideas off each other and talking it out can also further develop ideas. I know this works for me.
While the idea generation process is fun and playful, it is easy for the process to get off point and out of control. So, it is important to have a good facilitator to keep the session on track and within time.
Once you have come up with a whole bunch of ideas, it is time to evaluate. This is the time when practical considerations come in… budget, time, resources, space, feasibility, costs/ benefits analysis etc.
Easily 90% of your ideas will fail even the most of casual evaluation processes. But, you will be left with one or two ideas that may or may not work. This is when you have to evaluate and develop the ideas durther.
One important tool you need in effectively evaluating and developing ideas is an extensive knowledge base. Without knowledge, it will be impossible to develop an idea. So, it is important that before you embark on a creativity session for a “problem”, the “problem” is researched thoroughly or you have an expert on hand to consult on. You need knowledge to know if something is remotely possible or if it has been done before.
If we are developing a marketing/ publicity campaign, we research similar campaigns or generally are always abreast with what is going on in the world by similar businesses or within the industry. Knowing what are the latest marketing trends (currently social media) and knowing how to adopt it for your “problem” is critical.
If we are developing an illusion idea, the knowledge of illusion methods & techniques is a must. The greater the knowledge, the greater our ability to develop an idea. One reason we have been successful in coming up with multiple innovative mega illusion ideas is because of Concept:Magic’s extensive library and constant research in illusion developments around the world.
We have a dozen more techniques that we employ during our creativity sessions but that is as much a trade secret as our illusion methods 🙂
So, if you have mastered idea generation and creativity techniques that suit you – great. BUT! Remember, that is only half the process. The other half is implementation and follow through… but that is not the scope of this entry 🙂