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How to Quickly Generate Creative Ideas

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How To Quickly Generate Creative Ideas

As an advertising agency, creative thinking and unique ideas are the foundations of what we do. It is a way of looking at problems or situations from a fresh perspective, often leading to one-of-a-kind solutions that can be unorthodox or unconventional. But creative thinking isn’t just reserved for advertising agencies; it can, and should, be applied to all types of businesses.

One aspect of creative thinking is the ability to think clearly and quickly. In a world where the pace of change continues to accelerate, the skill of quickly generating ideas and solutions is valuable in and out of the office. Whether you are a manager trying to answer an employee’s question, or an employee put on the spot to provide a solution, fast thinking is a great skill to have.

“Speed thinking” allows you to be more open-minded and take multiple perspectives on a problem. By having to generate an idea or solution quickly, you are combing through the clutter and getting to the heart of the problem more efficiently. Your responses are the result of not over-thinking or being bogged down by facts and figures, and in turn are more creative.

Not that these solutions are always right or the best answer, but more often than not they are more unique and non-biased. By having to zero in on the key points and factors within a time constraint, you are drawing out gut responses and conclusions that are more creative.

Speed thinking is a skill that can be learned and developed. It takes practice, especially if you tend to be more deliberate and analytical in your responses. There are many ways to develop speed thinking, including:

  • Reading books like Blink by Malcolm Gladwell or Quick Thinking on Your Feet by Valerie Pierce
  • Applying Pareto’s Principle, known as the “80-20” rule (This rule states that in anything, 20% of the people, facts, etc. involved are vital, and 80% are irrelevant. As you approach new problems, try to sift through the information and find those few nuggets of data that can lead to the best conclusions and solutions.)
  • Practicing! - Join an improv group or play a game with coworkers, family or friends

At our last Friday at Four, we did this last option to help us stay light on our feet. We played the game “5 Second Rule,” which challenges players to “just spit it out.” This fast-paced game gives players five seconds to name three things based on the category on the card. As time winds down, players are challenged to quickly name things like “Three Breeds of Dogs” or “Three George Clooney Movies” while players are staring them down… no pressure at all, right? It ended up being a fun group activity, with funny and unique answers that only a flustered mind could generate.

The next time you face a problem or dilemma, challenge yourself to “think fast” and see what unique and inventive solution you create. Who knows, it might just be your greatest idea yet.

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