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Using a Creative Process to Develop Big, Bold Ideas Part I

By Paula Beadle

Over the last few weeks we have provided resources, ideas, action steps and participated in webinars to help our industry through this challenging and uncertain time. I’m hopeful the information and optimism we are providing is helpful to your creative process.

Although you may be overwhelmed with information these days, it’s important to remember input is an essential part of the creative process. Elton John listens to new music every day, Stephen King writes daily, Bill Gates reads incessantly. They gather information and when the time arrives to create, they reflect on the data collected to create bold and expansive ideas.

During this time of information overload, the creative ideas and true moments break through the clutter and remind me of the value of ideas and the focus a creative process provides. In the weeks ahead our optimism and vision of the future will be challenged, so use this time to create new ideas and solutions as a way to quiet the noise.

One of my dearest mentors, Gerry Tabio reminded me last week that bringing an idea to life can make, create or help a business thrive or perhaps survive. He said to me, “ideas created out of nothing have the power to change lives.” Wow. Take a moment to ponder that statement.

So where do we begin the creative process to develop big, bold ideas?

I have learned that making lists is a good place to start because often the first thought said is not the problem or the answer and it’s only through making a long list that we are able to truly explore. I like to use a process call Positives, Potentials, and Concerns (PPC). I make a long list of each, make 3 choices and focus on developing a list of ideas that will feed the things that are most important.

Following an inspiring conversation with a group of fearless leaders, I decided to put my creative problem solving process into action.

I pulled out the large post-it note paper to hang on the living room wall, grabbed my markers and in all my enthusiasm, I stood in front of large post-it note paper waited for inspiration to strike . . . and waited. Nada. Crickets. I had to remind myself, it’s not an uncommon experience to have a creative block. I need to adjust my thinking, so to inspire my big bold thinking, I read one of my favorite quotes . . .

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Back to my large post-it note paper to begin the steps in my creative process:

Step 1: I begin to make a list of all the positive things, without judgement. I don’t stop until I’ve exhausted every thought. I circle the 5 most relevant positive things happening – the ones I never want to sacrifice or end, the non-negotiables.

Step 2: Onto the list of potentials, I consider what could be better if I could make anything happen. Once I get started the list quickly expands. As I approach the list of potentials, I challenge myself to pick the ones that will require big, bold thinking – not the ones that with relative ease I can “just do it.”  Those that I circled are familiar.

Step 3: Next, is the final list of all my concerns. It’s longer than usual. At this point, your post-it notes may be paper oozing into other rooms, like mine commonly do. I approach my unusually long list of concerns and circle the ones that are keeping me up at night.

I rewrite my 5 choices from each list. As Charles Kettering from GM said, “A problem well stated is half solved,” so I challenge myself to be as specific as possible. Now I have a place to begin my idea generation and am satisfied I am working on the right things. Remember, often the first thing we say is not actually the thing we need help with or should spend time brainstorming solutions for.

My next step is to make plans with my personal Board of Directors to help me brainstorm ideas to maintain what’s positive, explore potential opportunities, and address the concerns. Stay tuned to see where my process leads and what creative ideas I put into action.

I hope the information we’ve shared serves as valuable input that inspires creativity, provides focus and encourages planning for a brighter future.

About the author: Paula Beadle is the CEO of Caravel Marketing, a national consulting company specializing in sponsorship marketing, and the founder of Sponsorship Mastery, an annual summit and programming dedicated to improving individual and organizational sponsorship performance. She is a results-driven trailblazer with a proven record of developing smart strategies and creatively connecting the right partners. Paula has helped iconic events and major brands achieve their goals through innovative sponsorship initiatives, generating incremental revenue and successfully coaching thriving teams, executives and boards.