Ever heard someone say “I’m just not that creative” ? (yes, I’m looking at you)
Now to me, that is the complete wrong way to look at it. Everyone is capable of being creative as it can be seen as a muscle you can train. So go cancel your gym membership, buckle up and let’s dive into the world of creative thinking and how it can be harnessed to unlock awesome superpowers.
What is creativity?
Unlike what I believed for the most part of my life, creativity is actually not about creating something completely new. It’s about making new connections between old ideas. This makes scouring for inspiration online such a helpful activity before creating. It helps build up a catalog of ideas your brain will be able to make connections with.
We can separate creativity in two different categories: adaptive and innovative. Adaptive creativity involves drawing inspiration from existing design patterns and adapting them to meet new challenges. Innovative creativity on the other hand, drives designers to explore uncharted territories, creating solutions by merging unrelated concepts. Balancing these two categories is key to generating ideas that are truly innovative.
Limiting beliefs and icebreakers
As you might have learned before reading this, it can be hard to open up the creative gates and flood your post-it notes with new ideas. This is mainly because your creative impulses can be blocked by limiting beliefs and self-doubt, something like a “creative block”.
So, how do we unlock that stuff and overcome that creative block?
The often negative assumptions that restrict our ideas need to be taken care of. Ice breakers are the most useful tool to wield for this. One we like to use a lot at Yummygum is called “reverse brainstorming”. This is when we try to think of really bad solutions to the problem at hand. This helps break social barriers and helps get your thoughts flowing. Because of that, icebreakers are perfect for creating a safe and open environment for ideas to flow freely. By letting go of self-imposed limitations we pave the way for more innovative thinking.
The creative cycle
The process we stick to at Yummygum goes by the name of “the creative cycle” or “double diamond”.
We go through four distinct phases where we alternate between converging and diverging.
Before we’ve defined the problem statement, which is right in the middle of the process, we’re not generating ideas yet. We’re simply discovering existing solutions, gaining inspiration and brainstorming possibilities. Next we define what it is we’re looking for in the solution, working towards a problem statement or a design challenge if you will.
Framing a design challenge
Effective design starts with a precisely framed challenge. This challenge serves as the guiding star for the creative thinking session. Follow these simple rules to formulate the challenge in “how might we” form;
Avoid suggesting a solution
How might we make the website more playful?How might we provide users with a more positive feeling about our brand?
Keep it broad
How might we use a better microphone?How might we improve audio quality?
Focus on desired outcome
How might we stop users from calling us?How might we make users feel confident they have all the information needed?
Phrase it positively
How might we make the return process less difficult?
How might we make the return process quick and intuitive?
Converging and diverging
As soon as we’ve got a properly formulated design challenge we can start the second phase of the creative cycle. Here, the converging and diverging principles come into play a bit more. But before you get to that, I’d suggest gathering some buddy’s. That’s because this process is always a lot more valuable in co-creative form rather than doing these on your own.
When generating ideas, we’re talking about diverging. This is all about trying to generate as many different ideas as possible to cast a wide net for available solutions. Try to follow these guidelines;
Defer judgment (this is about those limiting beliefs we’ve talked about)
Strive for quantity
Seek wild and unusual ideas
Build on other ideas
The most classic technique for this is brain dumping. This involves grabbing a piece of paper, and dumping it with as many ideas as possible in a set amount of time. There are many more techniques available online, all suited for different situations. You can chain them together, tweak them or create your own techniques.
The last stage of the creative cycle is “determine” where we’re focussing on converging. Here our focus shifts towards quality instead of quantity, attempting to work towards solutions that can actually be implemented. Again, try to follow these guidelines;
Check the objectives
A technique we love for converging is an evaluation matrix. Here you decide on the most important criteria for your idea, after which you rate your previously generated ideas for each criteria. Although it might be necessary to filter your generated ideas from the diverging stage a little bit beforehand so you can avoid having to rate 300 ideas. Again, there are many more techniques available to chain together and tweak to get the most out of your sessions. These techniques vary from filtering out a lot of bad ideas, all the way towards combining 2 good ideas into 1 super idea. Everything’s possible, as long as it helps you get to that shiny, polished diamond of an idea in the end.
To stand out in digital product design it’s become increasingly important for solutions to be innovative and user centric. And what better way to achieve this than using creative thinking sessions!
Once you get familiar with these techniques it can be really fun to design creative sessions for your team now that you’ve unlocked these awesome superpowers. Let these creative sessions help you solve complex issues in your team, or let it help you work towards awesome UI solutions. At Yummygum we’ve successfully tried to incorporate these and other techniques for all of our projects. Check some of them out here!
We’re ready to help you set up a solution-driven setup tailored to your challenge.