Recently a very large, international organization came to us and asked us to imagine the future of their core product.
They gave us 10 days.
Within that task were a myriad of counter assumptions. First of all, what were the limits of the imaginative circle? Sure, I know that imagination — to be truly innovative — needs to be stripped of the boundaries. But we were well aware that if we didn’t work within a certain preconceived environment, the client would not understand our innovation.
Secondly, you said 10 days? Within the context of our already crazy office and boutique environment, we pulled a group of people out to imagine. Pressing such a severe deadline limits the daydream, but forces the mind to dance at a faster tempo.
Finally, we were the only agency in the mix that did not currently work for the organization. We had a small taste of their brand direction and access to some content through public sources, but we didn’t play in their sand box.
So a few of us put our heads together and imagined.
We determined an imaginative circle to limit the possibilities. That was a great way to focus on the task at hand. We started with a visionary brainstorming. Then we chose which of those ideas reflected the brand, consumer mind set and technological capacity.
The deadline enhanced our product. There was no time to mess around. We simply identified the goal, sketched the vision and made it happen. In choosing the presentation format, we had to select a media that we could build in just a few days. It also had to be able to articulate the germ of the idea. That was probably our biggest challenge. Because the media presented the idea, we didn’t have the luxury of explaining, body language or intuition.
Finally, being a few steps outside of the inner circle was advantageous. We were not as burdened by limitations. We were able to glean consumer knowledge from using the web sites, participating in social media platforms and immersing ourselves into the organization as a consumer.
This little test of the imagination was an amazing lesson on creativity.
Ideas don’t just happen. They live in an imaginative circle. When the circle is too big, we wander aimlessly. If the circle is too small, we are unable to think creatively. When the circle is just right (says Goldilocks), we are able to define the space with imagination.
Unlimited time does not produce unlimited ideas. There are so many interruptions and opportunities, that a wide berth of time gives us a lot of space to wander unproductively. Our minds love a challenge, but to meet that challenge is a little more difficult. Deadlines give us focus and energy.
Finally, step back and look from the outside. Seeing things from the inside out shatters your ability to relate to a consumer. Just last week I received a short piece of content from a client. This content was developed by a product designer, not a communication person. When I ran a Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level test on the content it was rated at Grade 19. That’s an additional 7 years of post secondary education. Considering that 80% of the American population reads at a Grade 6 or under, even if I give Canadians a couple of years’ intelligence, it’s just not friendly. Standing in the shoes of your audience is vital.
The results of the little challenge were pretty good and we were a favoured contender… it just shows what a little imagination, vision and dedication can do.