Five things a day of brainstorming can teach us about creativity

Earlier this month, Banfield took the day off from our regularly scheduled work activities for a PD Day at the Hintonburg Community Centre.

Led by former adwoman and current brainstorming guru Marilyn Barefoot, the professional development exercises included a storytelling workshop and a blue-sky brainstorming session with a focus on divergent and convergent thinking.

The session was very successful (and a lot of fun!), and we all left recharged, inspired and ready to create something lots of great stuff. Most importantly, we made a bunch of new discoveries and were reminded of many best practices that can sometimes get lost in the day-to-day jobs.

Here are some of these lessons that everyone in our industry can benefit from.

1. Starting from nowhere is the best way to get somewhere

Someone drew a spiral on a sheet of paper. Another person thought it looked like a snail. And in no time at all, we were discussing the weight of a shell on a snail’s back as a metaphor for homelessness.

We started the day with just a few random photographs, and ended with pages and pages of ideas and concepts that could apply to real-world clients. And it didn’t come from a long, detailed brief or a kickoff meeting — just the thoughts and associations we made in our heads.

2. Creativity has no wrong answers

It’s a cliché, but it’s true. No great idea ever came from choosing the obvious answer. In fact, it might not even seem like a good idea at all, at first. But when we stopped dismissing ideas and built on them instead, it was amazing what we could come up with.

Every idea, no matter how seemingly out of reach, is an opportunity to find a new path to the best solution for any problem — whether it’s a multimedia marketing campaign, an idea for a video, or just what to make for dinner. Get weird with it, and see where that weirdness takes you.

3. Stand up for what you believe in

No, literally. Stand up.

Throughout the day, whenever we had an idea to present, Marilyn asked us to stand up. And what initially just seemed like light exercise actually made an impact: when we stood up, we felt more engaged, were more committed to finishing our thought, and were better able to articulate ideas that might otherwise have been mumbled and forgotten about.

4. Don’t lose touch with your inner child

There’s something to be said about the magic of touch. With piles of tangible toys in front of us, from fidget spinners to moderately unsettling squeezable chicken toys, we were able to fiddle with things to our heart’s content without losing focus on the task at hand.

It’s been proven that playing helps you tune into your problem-solving and creative skills. And now that we’ve tried it, we can testify to that — head to your closest dollar store and see for yourself!

5. Play-Doh brings out the artist in all of us

Many of us are creatives by trade, so when you put a tub of Play-Doh in front of us, we’re going to make good use of it. But it turns out that it has that inspiring effect on everyone.

We also didn’t realize how good of a use we’d make of it. It turns out, Banfielders and Play-Doh go hand-in-sticky-hand — and we created some pretty cool things.

Bonus: the most important lesson we learned that day

That the cheesy cliché is true: the creativity we’d been looking for was inside us all along. Whether you’re a fidgeter, a notetaker or an outspoken contributor, there’s a whole heap of creativity in there. You just need to find your way to get it out.

If you want to immerse yourself more into the world of creativity, check out CreativeMornings Ottawa. Banfield is now an official sponsor and we’d love to see you there!

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