Never Brainstorm with a "Blank Slate"
As the man in charge of guiding and developing R/GA's groundbreaking digital products, Will believes that paying respects to the unique capabilities of individual mediums builds the most efficient bridge to great work.
Step inside R/GA's Manhattan offices, and you'll likely find Turnage and his team engaged in a practice he calls, "Technology First." Like the colored pencil example, Technology First starts by selecting a very specific medium for communication, then creatively exploits its full potential.
In other words, it's the opposite of blank slate. And according to R/GA, this approach creates a powerful informational framework for ideas to emerge, with benefits that include more efficient ideation, faster implementation times, and better campaigns.
Or The Digital Dinner Bell, an Android app for spice and seasoning brand Lawry's. The creative process for this app began with the question, "If you could shake your phone like a dinner bell, what useful activity might that create?" Today, parents can automatically text message their families about what's for dinner and when it's ready, just by "ringing the bell."
"When we sit down to brainstorm, we don't ask ourselves, How can we use technology to reach this brand's objectives?" says Will. "We're very specific - How can we use the technology behind Facebook's 'Like' function to reach this brand's objectives?"
Hatching a strong creative concept is never easy, so we asked Will for his tips on thinking with a "Technology First" mindset.
Enable creative thinking by embracing arbitrary constraints. What if your idea only worked between 2:13 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. each day? What if your mobile app could only show one sentence and one button at a time? "You're basically saying, look, you've got text, links, and 140 characters," says Will. "What can we do with that? It's normally a lot more than you think."
Put emotional adjectives in front of specific technologies. What does a sad tweet, ecstatic check-in, or head-over-heels text message look like? How does it work? This exercise can loosen up your team and get the creativity flowing.
Pick an everyday interaction and internet-enable it. What if the door knob to your conference room had a Tumblr? What would it do? What would it say?
How about you?
What brainstorming constraints does your team use?
More about Carmel Hagen
Carmel Hagen is the founder and CEO of Sweet Revenge Sugar Co., a company developing mindfully delicious alternatives to refined sugar. For creative kitchen inspiration and mixologist tips, follow Sweet Revenge on Instagram at @enjoyrevenge or visit sweetrevengesugar.co