Now Go Create https://nowgocreate.co.uk Creativity Training & Problem Solving Tue, 11 Jun 2024 13:58:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.5.4 https://nowgocreate.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/cropped-Icon-32x32.jpg Now Go Create https://nowgocreate.co.uk 32 32 Bonjour, Créatifs! https://nowgocreate.co.uk/blog/bonjour-creatifs/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bonjour-creatifs https://nowgocreate.co.uk/blog/bonjour-creatifs/#respond Tue, 11 Jun 2024 13:58:36 +0000 https://nowgocreate.co.uk/?p=258939 It’s that time again, when the entire advertising and marketing community head to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. I’ll be in Cannes working and sucking up all the creative goodness for you, to report back in a few week’s time. In the meantime here are some of the marketing campaigns that I think […]

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It’s that time again, when the entire advertising and marketing community head to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

I’ll be in Cannes working and sucking up all the creative goodness for you, to report back in a few week’s time. In the meantime here are some of the marketing campaigns that I think will win big at the Festival🏆. 

The festival showcases the best of creativity in advertising and communication through various awards categories (the Lions), including film, print, PR, digital, design, and more. 

I want to dive into three case studies that have caught my eye, showcasing the power of creative thinking to overcome challenges and make an impact. The best bit: as you might know by now, I’m obsessed with unpicking creative ideas, so find out below how you can apply these principles to your own work.

On my radar 1: Stok’d Cannabis: “Next to Stok’d” 🍁

The campaign: Cannabis is legal in Canada, but advertising it isn’t. In a cheeky creative workaround of the marketing laws, the Stok’d Cannabis brand made the most of their local communities where their stores are based. The “Next to Stok’d” campaign promoted other local businesses in the area, like a nail salon, where the owners of those businesses play on all the ‘banned’ language in their ads. It’s a win, win. It’s cheeky and on-brand and I reckon this will do well in the direct category or outdoor.

How to do it in your next brainstorm:

  • Think laterally: When faced with restrictions, explore indirect solutions. Ask, “What can we promote that aligns with our brand?” List all the rules and then explore ways to break them.
  • Embrace playfulness: Use humour and lightheartedness to connect with your audience and make your message memorable.
  • Build associations: Look for opportunities to create positive connections between your brand and other entities that share your values or target audience.

Watch it here.

On my radar 2:  Specsavers: Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” Remix 🎶

The campaign: Specsavers took a fun and unexpected approach to raise awareness about hidden hearing loss. In a reframe of the problem, they partnered with the legend that is Rick Astley to re-record his iconic song “Never Gonna Give You Up”. Instead of focussing on hearing loss directly, with the stigma that might have, they focussed on ‘mis-hearing’ which we can all relate to – with amusingly misheard lyrics, highlighting the challenges faced by those with hearing difficulties. The campaign not only generated buzz (pun intended) but also effectively conveyed an important message. I love that Rick Astley was also bang in the audience demographic and shared his own experiences. This was earned media first, and at its best, so definitely a PR Lion contender.

How to do it in your next brainstorm:

  • Tap into cultural relevance: Leverage popular trends, memes, or nostalgia to create instant familiarity and engagement.
  • Balance humour and empathy: Use humour to grab attention, but ensure it’s balanced with empathy for the issue you’re addressing.
  • Seek authentic partnerships: Collaborate with influencers or individuals who have a genuine connection to your cause for added credibility.

Watch it here. 

On my radar 3: Heinz: Ketchup and ‘Seemingly Ranch’ 🍔

The campaign: Heinz jumped on a viral moment with lightning-fast creativity as they are brilliant at doing. When Taylor Swift was spotted eating chicken tenders with “seemingly ranch” at a football game, Heinz seized the opportunity and launched a limited-edition “Ketchup and Seemingly Ranch” sauce. Heinz and their agencies are on fire with their social game. I reckon this saucy fun is in the running for a social gong.

How to do it in your next brainstorm:

  • Stay agile and responsive: Monitor cultural trends and be ready to act quickly when relevant opportunities arise.
  • Embrace the unexpected: Don’t be afraid to experiment with playful and unconventional ideas that capture the zeitgeist.
  • Create FOMO: Limited-edition products or experiences can generate excitement and urgency, driving consumer interest and engagement.

Watch it here.

Like this? Want more?

Book Your Own Cannes Lions Unleashed Webinar with Claire Bridges

I’m working at the Festival on-site for the 8th year, and I’ll be on the front line absorbing all the biggest trends and winning work. Someone has to do it 🙂 

Hot off the Croisette, in this 60-minute webinar, I’ll share the biggest trends and award-winning highlights from this year’s festival, giving you the tools to inject your work with a serious dose of ooh la la.

Key Takeaways:

  • Feed your brain: Discover the trends making waves.
  • Feast on the award-winning brilliance: We’ll dissect the campaigns that took Cannes Lions by storm, dissecting why they won.
  • Get insider tips from the creative masterminds: jury members will spill the tea at the festival and I’ll share it with you!
  • Apply: Think about how to apply the insights and trends to your own business challenges.

I’m going to run these sessions for in-house teams throughout July. Give me a shout if you’d like the low down and the costs.

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Think like a Nobel prize winner with the Feynman Technique https://nowgocreate.co.uk/blog/think-like-a-nobel-prize-winner-with-the-feynman-technique/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=think-like-a-nobel-prize-winner-with-the-feynman-technique Wed, 08 May 2024 14:32:25 +0000 https://nowgocreate.co.uk/?p=258134 Sometimes trying to get to a solution can be like wading through treacle. Or trying to untangle one problem from another. If you find yourself struggling to get to grips with your challenge, try the Feynman Technique, an approach named after the Nobel-Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, that can transform your problem-solving game. “I was born […]

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Sometimes trying to get to a solution can be like wading through treacle. Or trying to untangle one problem from another. If you find yourself struggling to get to grips with your challenge, try the Feynman Technique, an approach named after the Nobel-Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, that can transform your problem-solving game.

“I was born not knowing and have had only a little time to change that here and there.” Richard Feynman

At its core, the Feynman Technique boils down to explaining a complex concept or problem to someone who knows nothing about it, typically a child. But don’t underestimate the power of this seemingly simple exercise. By forcing yourself to break down complex ideas into their fundamental components and articulate them in plain English, you unlock a potent problem-solving mindset.

Why is the Feynman Technique so helpful? Here are some key reasons:

1. Clarity Through Simplification: The act of explaining something to a layman forces you to identify the core essence of the issue. You strip away jargon, technicalities, and extraneous details, focusing on the fundamental principles that drive the problem. This process of simplification not only enhances your own understanding but also reveals gaps in your knowledge or inconsistencies in your logic.

2. Identifying Knowledge Gaps: When you try to explain something to someone unfamiliar with the topic, you often stumble upon areas where your own understanding is shaky. The Feynman Technique acts as a diagnostic tool, highlighting areas where you need to do further research or consult with others. This self-awareness is crucial for effective problem-solving, as it allows you to address gaps in your knowledge base before forging ahead.

3. Active Learning and Retention: The act of teaching is a powerful learning tool in itself. By explaining a concept to someone else, you solidify your own understanding and knowledge retention. This active learning process is far more effective than passively reading or listening to information. The Feynman Technique, therefore, turns problem-solving into a process of continuous learning and knowledge refinement.

4. Boosting Creativity and Innovation: Simplifying and explaining complex concepts often leads to unexpected insights and connections. By forcing yourself to think from a different perspective and articulate your ideas in a clear and concise way, you open the door to creative solutions you might have otherwise missed. The Feynman Technique can spark out-of-the-box thinking and lead to innovative approaches to old problems.

5. Enhancing Communication and Collaboration: The ability to explain complex ideas clearly and persuasively is a critical skill for any business professional. The Feynman Technique hones your communication skills, allowing you to present your ideas to colleagues, clients, and stakeholders in a way that is both understandable and engaging. This clarity fosters better collaboration and teamwork, as everyone involved has a shared understanding of the problem and potential solutions.

Putting the Feynman Technique into Practice:

Ready to harness the power of the Feynman Technique for your business? Here’s how:

Step one: explain the problem to a five-year-old. This forces you to confront the gaps in your own understanding and identify the core principles at play. 

Step two: build bridges. Are there analogous situations in history, science, or even pop culture? Think outside the box, folks. 

Step three: simplify and refine. Can you express the core concept in even fewer words? Brevity is your friend here. (See our blog on the one word technique)

Finally, step four: test and iterate. Share your distilled wisdom with others, gather feedback, and refine your understanding. It’s a beautiful feedback loop that leads to breakthrough solutions.

It is a habit-forming practice that can significantly improve your problem-solving skills over time. 

The more you integrate it into your approach, the better equipped you’ll become to tackle any challenge with clarity, creativity, and confidence.

Additional Tips:

  • Use diagrams, drawings, or metaphors to simplify complex concepts.
  • Ask yourself questions as you explain, like “Why is this important?” or “What are the implications?”
  • Don’t be afraid to get creative and have fun with the process!

The beauty of the Feynman Technique is its iterative nature. Each step challenges your understanding, revealing blind spots and pushing you towards a deeper clarity. It’s not about dumbing down, but about building a rock-solid foundation from which creative solutions can blossom.

Check out our blog on the one word technique for a brutal distillation of your challenge, or try out the X Brief, to get your challenge into a short Tweet.

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Can your brief survive the Twitter test? Find out now! https://nowgocreate.co.uk/blog/can-your-brief-survive-the-twitter-test-find-out-now/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=can-your-brief-survive-the-twitter-test-find-out-now Wed, 08 May 2024 14:04:08 +0000 https://nowgocreate.co.uk/?p=258138 Most project or marketing briefs are anything but. The creative mind thrives on both inspiration and constraint. While we may balk at limitations, the truth is, focused parameters often force out our most innovative and effective work. That’s the power of the X (Twitter) brief. Despite the oft-talked about idea of blue-sky thinking, constraints might […]

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Most project or marketing briefs are anything but.

The creative mind thrives on both inspiration and constraint. While we may balk at limitations, the truth is, focused parameters often force out our most innovative and effective work. That’s the power of the X (Twitter) brief.

Despite the oft-talked about idea of blue-sky thinking, constraints might seem counterintuitive to the creative process, but think of them like guardrails. Without boundaries, it’s too easy to drift aimlessly or get overwhelmed by endless possibilities. Constraints provide a much-needed framework, forcing us to consider unusual combinations, find resourceful solutions, and hone our ideas down to their most potent form.

Studies show that the right amount of constraint can stimulate novel thinking and problem-solving. It prompts us to step outside our comfort zones, pushing us to discover unexpected approaches that might never have surfaced under less restrictive conditions.

By boiling down your brief’s purpose to tweet-length, you eliminate distraction and ensure every single word supports the central goal. Your time and focus are your most valuable assets. A Twitter brief can help sharpen that focus – not just for you and your aims, but for anyone who comes into contact with your brief.

Much like a haiku poem, the Twitter brief demands discipline and precision. Legendary ad man Dave Trott came up with this idea on how to brief better.:

  • Imagine if your brief had to be written as a 280 character Tweet/X. 
  • That’s about 50 words.
  • If it was a matter of life and death, what is the ONE thing you’d want to be able to achieve, to change or affect?
  • What’s the one single job we absolutely must do?
  • That takes priority over everything else?
  • There’s no room for anything that isn’t crucial.
  • Clarity in, clarity out.

So, the next time you’re facing a creative task, don’t shy away from setting limitations. Try writing your creative or project brief as an X now!

If you like this technique see the even-more-focussed distillation tool – one word – here.

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Want to be more creative? Blue sky thinking allowed! https://nowgocreate.co.uk/blog/want-to-be-more-creative-blue-sky-thinking-allowed/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=want-to-be-more-creative-blue-sky-thinking-allowed Wed, 08 May 2024 11:19:01 +0000 https://nowgocreate.co.uk/?p=258136 This exercise is a simple and fun one – and a great reason to get outside and get some vitamin D. Hopefully your neck of the woods today has a sky full of those big, white fluffy clouds – your goal is simply to try and make interesting SHAPES from them. Maybe you can see […]

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This exercise is a simple and fun one – and a great reason to get outside and get some vitamin D.

Hopefully your neck of the woods today has a sky full of those big, white fluffy clouds – your goal is simply to try and make interesting SHAPES from them. Maybe you can see a shark in one – perhaps there’s another one nearby that looks like a dolphin that your shark is chasing. You might spot faces or buildings – anything, really.

Great – but how does this help with your creativity?

Well, you’re reminding yourself that everything is not always as it first seems. There are a thousand ways to look at things – and it’s very useful to keep this in mind during the ideation process.

Looking at familiar objects in a new way or from a new angle yields different results.

Head out and look to the clouds – see if you can find at least five different shapes, and if you’re playing with others, offer a prize for the best find. Take a picture of anything you find. 

If there are no clouds today, you can try the same thing with tea leaves, coffee grounds, the foam in your cappuccino, or check out the wonderfully named Cloud Appreciation Society. This is a website that celebrates looking up. They say:

We believe that clouds are unjustly maligned and that life would be immeasurably poorer without them.

We think that they are Nature’s poetry, and the most egalitarian of her displays, since everyone can have a fantastic view of them.

We believe that clouds are for dreamers and their contemplation benefits the soul. Indeed, all who consider the shapes they see in them will save money on psychoanalysis bills.

Did you know? Klecksography is the art of making art and images from inkblots – taking the random and making sense of it. The history of using inkblots as tools for stimulating imagination can be traced back as far as the late 1400’s. Both Leonardo da Vinci and Boticelli used them. 

Perhaps the idea of blue sky thinking and cloud-watching is not so bonkers after all!

Hamlet: Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?
Polonius: By th’ mass and ’tis: like a camel indeed.
Hamlet: Methinks it is like a weasel.
Polonius: It is backed like a weasel.
Hamlet: Or like a whale.
Polonius: Very like a whale.

– Hamlet, William Shakespeare, Act III, Scene 2

So, look up and remember to live life with your head in the clouds! And if you’re still not sure how you’ll convince the boss tell them this:

“Breaks are not a deviation from performance, but are actually a part of it.” – Dan Pink

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The Zen of One Word: Unlock Creativity with Simplicity https://nowgocreate.co.uk/blog/the-zen-of-one-word-unlock-creativity-with-simplicity/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-zen-of-one-word-unlock-creativity-with-simplicity Wed, 31 Jan 2024 17:15:29 +0000 https://nowgocreate.co.uk/?p=258129 Ever feel like the problem you’re tackling is a big old, tangled ball of yarn, impossible to unravel? I’ve worked with and interviewed 100’s of creatives and one of the recurring themes is simplicity and the art of distilling your problem down to its essence. It’s easier said than done, but there is a tool […]

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Ever feel like the problem you’re tackling is a big old, tangled ball of yarn, impossible to unravel? I’ve worked with and interviewed 100’s of creatives and one of the recurring themes is simplicity and the art of distilling your problem down to its essence.

It’s easier said than done, but there is a tool that I use with every creative brief I work on.

It’s the one-word technique; a deceptively simple tool from one of my favourite and best-thumbed books on creativity – Michael Michalko’s “Thinkertoys” and it’s a great starting point to help you to unravel ‘mess’ and ignite creative ideas.

Think of it as another tool in your creative strategy arsenal. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: start with a simple sentence

Grab your pen and paper. Start by distilling your problem into a single, as-concise-as-you-can sentence. This is your starting point. 

For example, instead of “our marketing campaign isn’t resonating with the target audience,” try “there’s a disconnect” or in plainer English, perhaps “the message is not hitting the mark” or “people are ignoring the campaign” or from the customer’s point of view “it’s not for me”.

Step 2: one word 

Now, review your sentence and ask yourself, “What single word captures the heart of this problem?” Is it “confusion”? “blandness”? “misalignment”? Choose the one that feels like the bullseye.

Step 3: make the thesaurus your creative buddy

Now dive into the thesaurus, exploring synonyms and near-synonyms. This opens up new perspectives and unlocks hidden connections. “Misalignment” might lead you to “dissonance,” “discrepancy,” or even “friction.”

Step 4: dig deeper

What does your chosen word truly mean to you? Write down your personal definition, weaving in your lived experience and understanding. This imbues the word with depth and emotional resonance. “Friction,” for you, might signify a rough, bumpy experience, while someone else might envision sparks flying.

Step 5: dictionary detour 

Consult the dictionary definition of your chosen word. Does it add another layer of meaning? Does it contradict your personal definition? Embrace the dissonance! This friction can spark new ideas and challenge your initial assumptions.

Step 6: the word evolves

Within the dictionary definition, lurks another possibility. Is there a sub-word, a hidden gem that better captures the essence of your problem? Repeat the process, diving deeper. “Friction” might lead you to “abrasion,” or “imbalance.”

Step 7: collective clarity 

Don’t go it alone! Share your one-word journey with your colleagues, team, or even your boss. See what words resonate with them, creating a diverse vocabulary of the problem or opportunity. This collaborative approach fosters a richer understanding of the issue and gives you options.

Step 8: sanity check 

Step back and evaluate it with your team/client/boss/colleagues. The idea is that this pause, this interrogation of the challenge, should offer room for different perspectives and to banish jargony, bland, corporate speak. 

It should also offer different jump off points for problem solving or creative ideas.

Does it ring true? 

Does it accurately reflect the problem without oversimplification? Be willing to pivot and refine, ensuring your one-word compass points towards a solution.

Studies by the University of Chicago found that focusing on a single word improved cognitive flexibility and problem-solving accuracy by 25%. It’s like zooming in on a satellite image, sharpening the blurry edges and revealing the hidden patterns.

Distillation isn’t just a solo act.

It’s a collaborative superpower. A 2020 study by MIT showed that teams that used distillation techniques to identify shared priorities before brainstorming outperformed teams that jumped straight into idea generation. Distilling fosters a sense of shared understanding, a common ground from which creative solutions can blossom.

The one-word technique is a helpful gateway to creative thinking. By focusing on the essence, finding unexpected connections, and embracing collaboration, you can find fresh and interesting creative territories.

P.S. Want to dive deeper? Check out these resources:

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Seeing is believing. Vision board your goals to life. https://nowgocreate.co.uk/blog/come-vision-board-with-me/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=come-vision-board-with-me Wed, 31 Jan 2024 16:29:54 +0000 https://nowgocreate.co.uk/?p=258123 A vision board is a powerful tool for visualising your goals and attracting them into your life. It’s like a roadmap for your dreams, filled with images, words, and symbols that inspire and motivate you. Yes it’s nearly the end of January but there’s still time to plan out your creative year! Here’s how to […]

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A vision board is a powerful tool for visualising your goals and attracting them into your life. It’s like a roadmap for your dreams, filled with images, words, and symbols that inspire and motivate you.

Yes it’s nearly the end of January but there’s still time to plan out your creative year! Here’s how to create your own masterpiece:

  1. Dream Big:
    Take some quiet time to reflect on your deepest desires. What do you truly want to achieve in different areas of your life? Career, relationships, health, travel, anything goes! Write down your goals and aspirations without holding back.
  2. Gather Inspiration:
    Browse magazines, Pinterest boards, websites, or even your own photos for visuals that resonate with your goals. Images of dream destinations, motivational quotes, inspiring individuals, or anything that sparks joy and excitement are fair game.
  3. Get Creative: ✂️
    This is where the fun begins! Cut out your chosen images and quotes, or print them if needed. Use colorful markers, paint, glitter, or any other embellishments to personalize your board and make it truly your own.
  4. Arrange with Intention: ✨
    Think about the different areas of your life you’re focusing on and arrange your elements accordingly. You can create sections for career, relationships, personal growth, etc. Don’t overthink it – let your intuition guide you!
  5. Find a Special Spot Where You Can See Your Board:
    Place your vision board somewhere you’ll see it often – your bedroom wall, your desk, or even your fridge! The constant visual reminder will keep your goals top of mind and fuel your motivation.
  6. Bonus Tip: ✨ Infuse your vision board with positive affirmations! Write down short, powerful statements that embody your desires and beliefs. For example, “I am achieving my dream career” or “I will achieve my creative ambitions this year.”
  7. Remember, creating a vision board is a personal journey. There are no right or wrong ways to do it. Embrace your creativity and have fun! Revisit your board whenever you feel you need to refocus.
  8. Watch the video below as Claire Bridges, Founder of Now Go Create talks you through it!

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Powerful coaching questions to get you from stuck to unstuck fast https://nowgocreate.co.uk/blog/powerful-coaching-questions-to-get-you-from-stuck-to-unstuck-fast/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=powerful-coaching-questions-to-get-you-from-stuck-to-unstuck-fast Fri, 19 Jan 2024 13:55:54 +0000 https://nowgocreate.co.uk/?p=258107 Stuck in a rut? Facing a creative challenge that seems insurmountable? Don’t despair! Here are 11 of my favourite coaching questions that can help you unlock problems, shift perspective and drive progress in your professional life. Get a fresh perspective 1. What if the opposite were true?  2. What is the simplest thing that could […]

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Stuck in a rut? Facing a creative challenge that seems insurmountable? Don’t despair! Here are 11 of my favourite coaching questions that can help you unlock problems, shift perspective and drive progress in your professional life.

Get a fresh perspective

1. What if the opposite were true? 

  • This question flips the script, forcing you to consider alternative perspectives and expose hidden assumptions. Source: “Thinkertoys” by Michael Michalko)

2. What is the simplest thing that could possibly work? 

  • This question cuts through complexity and focuses on the core essence of the problem (Source: “Simplify” by Joshua Cooper Ramo)

3. What would happen if there were no rules? 

  • By removing constraints, this question encourages radical thinking and leads to innovative solutions. List the rules you ‘think’ are in place – what are they and how could you break them , change them or workaround them? (Source: “Thinkertoys” by Michael Michalko)

4. What would a [role model/expert/unexpected source] do in this situation?

  • This question leverages the wisdom of others and opens up new possibilities. You’re struggling to manage your time effectively? Asking “What productivity hacks does [your favourite CEO] use?” might inspire new strategies for your own workflow. Or go further an step into the shoes of a historical figure, celebrity, politician, activist and so on. You can read more about this process here.

Personal inquiry questions

5. What haven’t I considered yet? 

  • This introspective question prompts you to revisit your assumptions and explore uncharted territory. You’re trying to improve your public speaking skills? Asking “What hidden factors might be affecting my audience’s engagement?” might lead to unexpected adjustments in your delivery.

6. How can I make this a win-win situation for everyone involved? 

  • This question shifts the focus from individual gain to mutual benefit, fostering collaboration and building trust. You’re facing a disagreement with a colleague? Asking “How can we find a solution that works for both of us?” might lead to a more sustainable and satisfying outcome. (Source: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey)

7. The Dr Pepper question. What’s the worst that could happen if I try this? 

  • This question confronts fear and encourages calculated risk-taking. You’re hesitant to launch your new product? Asking “What is the potential downside of trying this, and how can I mitigate it?” might help you overcome your hesitation. A pre-mortem can be a great way to do this in more depth (Source: Dr Pepper ads, lol)

8. What is the most important thing I can learn from this situation? 

  • No-one likes to fall short but if you lose, don’t lose the lesson as someone wise once said. When you’ve got over the initial shock/pain/impact of what has happened this question can help to reframe ‘failure’ as a learning opportunity, fostering resilience and growth. (Source: “Mindset” by Carol Dweck, one of my favourite authors on this topic).

9. Can I break this problem down into smaller, more manageable pieces? 

  • The classic ‘you can’t eat an elephant but you can eat a lot of elephant burgers’ approach. This question tackles overwhelming challenges by dividing them into bite-sized steps. You’re feeling overwhelmed by a large project? Asking “What are the 3 key tasks I can complete today to make progress?” might reduce anxiety and increase momentum. I also like the tip to do the thing you’re most dreading as your first task of the day so you don’t procrastinate and feel better about yourself!

10. What am I grateful for in this situation? 

  • Another questions that might need a bit of distance from the initial event. This question shifts focus from the problem to the positive aspects, fostering optimism and resilience. You’re facing a personal setback? Asking “What am I learning about myself through this experience?” might help you maintain a positive outlook and find strength to move forward. Resilience is not something you have, it’s something you do too.

11. What is the conversation you’re NOT having?

  • My personal new favourite coaching question. Susan Scott is author of a book called Fierce Conversations who says: “Never be afraid of the conversations you are having. Be afraid of the conversations you are not having.” That sounds like a great prompt to help you get unblocked and tackle deeper challenges. (Source: “Fierce Conversations” by Susan Scott.)

The best questions are those that spark curiosity, challenge assumptions, and open doors to new possibilities. So, experiment, ask boldly, and watch your problems transform into opportunities for growth and innovation. My own book In Your Creative Element also features over 100 creative coaching questions to help you move forward.

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How to supercharge your creativity in 2024 with a vision board https://nowgocreate.co.uk/blog/how-to-supercharge-your-creativity-in-2024-with-a-vision-board/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-to-supercharge-your-creativity-in-2024-with-a-vision-board Fri, 05 Jan 2024 13:28:07 +0000 https://nowgocreate.co.uk/?p=258094 Vision boarding has been unfairly maligned. It can get lumped in with the ‘law’ of attraction as an exercise in idle fantasy, a way for the warm waters of what might be to tempt you away from doing anything about what actually is.  At Now Go Create, we don’t pretend to understand all the mysteries […]

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Vision boarding has been unfairly maligned. It can get lumped in with the ‘law’ of attraction as an exercise in idle fantasy, a way for the warm waters of what might be to tempt you away from doing anything about what actually is. 

At Now Go Create, we don’t pretend to understand all the mysteries of the cosmos. But rather than waiting around for the universe to deliver our desires, we reckon we’re better off reclaiming a vision board from the just-think-positive-thoughts posse and using the power of dreams to inspire an itch for action.

But there is a disclaimer: just creating a vision board is not going to make your dreams a reality. You will actually have to plan and take action. But by making one you are setting your goals for the future in a visual way. By having it somewhere you can see it every day you’re keeping your goals in sight 😉

Vision boarding can provide a unique way for us to step outside the immediacy of our deadline-driven work worlds and engage ourselves with the important stuff.

“What do we really want for our lives and where should we put our energies in order to achieve it?”

These are big questions, and it makes sense to use a big part of our intelligence to enagage with them. Half our brains are devoted directly or indirectly to vision and we’re hard-wired to process the world visually. Communications expert Professor Brad Bushman says that “that our brain is mainly an image processor (much of our sensory cortex is devoted to vision), not a word processor. In fact, the part of the brain used to process words is quite small in comparison to the part that processes visual images.”

The occipital lobe is the part of the brain that processes visual information and using images is one of the strongest ways to help material enter the brain and stay there.

As visual creatures, a vision boarding session can be rooted in using the same neural pathways to influence something much more important: how we spend our attention and time.

“Attention and time are two of the engines of action.”

But first we need to get an idea of where we might like to go. And this is where vision boarding comes into its own.

Here are three observations from doing my own vision board for anyone seeking to make their own a success:

1. Make your inner critic work for you, not against you

When we begin any creative endeavour, we go up against our inner critic. This judge that hovers over our shoulder constantly asking, “is this any good?” has the power to shut so many of our early experiments down. First steps aren’t supposed to be good, though our inner critic doesn’t always appreciate that. The thing with the inner critic though is that it’s part of who we are. Our judgements on the things we think are good – and those we don’t – are part of our individual identities. Rather than attempting to shut this voice out, vision boarding begins by harnessing its power. It’s integral to the exploration, the sifting through images, postcards, fabric samples, cuttings, quotes. Your judgement will guide you on the journey of no, no,no,maybe, no, hmm, yes, no, hold on… YES. Your board must first speak to you.

2: Think with your fingers. 

One of my favourite German words is “fingerspitzengefuhl’. It means ‘fingertip feeling’ and usually denotes a wide-ranging intuition, but I like to (mis) translate it as ‘thinking with your fingers.’ This is how each board seems to emerge from the intersection between individual creative preference and available materials.

Unlike most computer-based work, there is a physicality to vision boarding: the sifting and tearing of paper, the fine control of scissors, the satisfaction of fitting images together. At times it feels almost as if our fingers are making the decisions without having to consult with the brain. 

When I watch other people doing this it’s a kind of mental relaxation, a collective expression of engagement from the group once they began doing this. As one creator, deep in the flow of it, said:

“Why can’t we do this every day?”

3: Share your story

Using your judgement and thinking with your fingers to create a tangible vision board is the first step. The next is sharing your story with others if you want to. There can be a particular power in the act of making your dreams known. It feels like speaking up for yourself, breathing life into something which otherwise might have stayed deep inside your thoughts. The whole point of these sessions is to help get the dreams and goals out of our heads and into the real world where we can do something about them. Because it’s doing that gives dreaming its power.

How to do it

Creating a vision board is as simple as it sounds. Think about what you want in your creative nirvana. What will you be able to do, achieve, create – in the next 6-12 months?

Perhaps deliver an amazing customer experience on your website or design new stand-out packaging. Maybe you want to push for a promotion. Or start that side-hustle you keep putting off.

  • All you need is a piece of stiff board (personally I go for A3 or bigger so that you can really go to town) and of course scissors and glue or spray mount. I also use those rubber alphabet stamps and inkpads so I can print quotes and words onto the boards.
  • Then all you need is some time to yourself, a space where you can relax and your stash of inspiration. Grab a stack of magazines and flick through, cutting out any images or quotes that seem to fit. You can add personal or aspirational photos, postcards, and anything else that inspires you.

I used visual journaling, including making vision boards and collaging, extensively as part of my thesis when I was studying creativity and innovation a few years ago. I found it a powerful way to help you go beyond your rational, conscious mind and access other ways of knowing.

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Goal-Getter or Goal-Forgetter? How to set your 2024 Creative Goals https://nowgocreate.co.uk/blog/your-guide-to-setting-and-achieving-creative-success-in-2024/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=your-guide-to-setting-and-achieving-creative-success-in-2024 Tue, 02 Jan 2024 12:37:37 +0000 https://nowgocreate.co.uk/?p=257698 Here’s a slightly awkward confession: my New Year’s resolutions for 2023 if was going to make then would bear a striking resemblance to those of 2022, 2021, and, well, every other year before that. I always kick off with enthusiasm but the weather, the effort, the pull of the fridge, doom-scrolling, the sheer pressure of […]

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Here’s a slightly awkward confession: my New Year’s resolutions for 2023 if was going to make then would bear a striking resemblance to those of 2022, 2021, and, well, every other year before that.

I always kick off with enthusiasm but the weather, the effort, the pull of the fridge, doom-scrolling, the sheer pressure of it all defeats me within days. It’s not a great way to kick start the new year and your creative success.

As the calendar flips, millions of us will pledge to reinvent ourselves. Whether on scraps of paper, crumpled napkins, or in new fancy notebooks, the annual ritual involves listing the ways we’ll be better this year. Yet, statistics suggest that up to 80% of people abandon their resolutions by February, with only 8% staying committed all year. So how can we try to adopt changes that last longer than a few weeks?

I have given up setting myself a long list of should-dos. It just feels so depressing to feel like you’re failing 2 weeks into a new year! But I always try to set some shape to the year and intentions before tackling the to-do list this week.

Setting meaningful goals and making real change requires more than list making just because everyone else is doing it. It takes motivation, time and effort. But of course a new year does mean a fresh start, an empty calendar and a full 12 months to make your “dent in the universe” to quote Steve Jobs. So what can you do if you want to achieve your creative ambitions this year?

 “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.’

Japanese proverb

So starting today, and over the next few weeks, I thought I’d share some of the ideas and exercises that I use personally – these combine the vision-setting and the practical actions to help you make 2024 your best creative year yet.

Michael Bungay Stanier is author of Do More Great Work’, a book that had a big impact on how I approach the start of each year professionally.

It’s a simple idea really. Stanier suggests that we can all be preoccupied every single day doing what he calls ‘busy’ or ‘bad work’ – that might be being in meetings we don’t need to be in, answering emails or writing endless reports.

‘Good work’ is better, but it’s treading water, maintaining the status quo and working on projects that never really move the needle or drive the organisation ahead. Stanier suggests instead that we focus on our ‘great work’ – expanding on the innovative, interesting ideas that stretch us, and move ourselves, and our companies forward.

At the start of each year I think about what my ‘great work’ project is going to be (or could be, no matter how embryonic), and this is the North Star that provides focus and drives my actions on a monthly, weekly and a daily basis. It’s not always straightforward because of course we all have a limited range of time, energy and resources. But if I reach July and I haven’t started on the project that I identified as important, or I’m stuck, then I know something’s gone awry.

So the start of a new year is a great time to ask yourself:

‘What is my great work project for 2024 going to be?’

This might mean reprioritising. Perhaps you’ve come across the ‘stop, start, continue’ framework for managing change, which is useful in a range of situations, including here. Ask these three simple questions, which can then lead to further questions:

  • What are some things I should stop doing?
  • What should I start doing?
  • What should I continue doing?
  • What should I do more of?

I’ll leave the last word on this topic to Stanier and this great question to help you prioritise:

“If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?”

Next time we’ll look at representing your great work plan and 2024 goals with imagery, bringing them to life by creating a vision board.

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Don’t wait til the idea is dead – make better decisions with a project pre mortem https://nowgocreate.co.uk/blog/dont-wait-til-the-idea-is-dead-make-better-decisions-with-a-project-pre-mortem/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dont-wait-til-the-idea-is-dead-make-better-decisions-with-a-project-pre-mortem Mon, 23 Oct 2023 17:34:25 +0000 https://www.nowgocreate.co.uk/?p=6264 Notice: JavaScript is required for this content.

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I came across a great idea to address bias in decision making by a psychologist called Gary Klein. We’re all familiar with the idea of a project post mortem to establish what’s gone well and not so well with a project but what about the idea of a pre mortem?

Research conducted at the Wharton School and University of Colorado identified something they called ‘prospective hindsight’—imagining that an event has already occurred – and they found this can increase a person’s ability to correctly identify what happens in the future by 30%. I recently ran an innovation sprint for a client and we used this process to help us figure out what might go wrong.

What is a pre-mortem?

Projects may fail for many reasons. The pre-mortem helps you and your group recognize potential barriers, vulnerabilities and complications around your project and so anticipate problems to overcome.

Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Gary Klein an expert in decision making, explains further:

“Unlike a typical critiquing session, in which project team members are asked what might go wrong, the premortem operates on the assumption that the “patient” has died, and so asks what did go wrong. The team members’ task is to generate plausible reasons for the project’s failure.”

Why use a pre-mortem?

When trying to generate creative ideas, perhaps in a group brainstorming session, it helps to structure your session so that when you are generating ideas for the first time, you avoid dissenting with each other in order to generate a volume of options. You can decide whether they are workable as the next stage. But when it comes to planning dissent is a really useful way to assess the pros and cons of an idea, evaluate whether any risks are associated and to find holes in a plan. This is where the pre mortem fits in.

The idea is similar to Edward De Bono’s ‘black hatted’ thinking as part of his famous six thinking hats technique – spotting all the pitfalls and issues with a project – but it isolates the negative thinking into one-stage.

How to run a pre-mortem

Step 1 – imagine that you are 3 years into the future, and despite all of the team’s efforts, the idea, campaign or project you have been working on has failed—catastrophically, and many things have gone completely wrong.

Ask yourself and your team: what does the worst-case scenario look like for you and the project? Describe the failure as fully as you can.
 
Step 2 –generate all the reasons for this failure. Spend time recording the reasons that could cause this failure
 
Ask your team: what could have caused our project to fail and list the reasons. Think if there are any underlying assumptions that you have made that have led to this position.
 
What assumptions did I make? What assumptions did others make?
 
Step 3 –now prioritise your list of potential reasons for failure. Use your own criteria to decide what is most/least likely and discuss why you think that’s the case. Try to remember your own potential bias and be open-minded.
 
Ask your team: what specific actions could we take to avoid or manage these concerns?
 
You can do all the above stages individually, in pairs or as a group. What might you do differently now having undertaken the PM?
 
The group I was working with for the innovation sprint used this process to help them to identify any big possible cock ups before they happened and they loved it! Give it a whirl as part of your next workshop or brainstorming session before you land on your final ideas.

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