The Cohen-Miller Report: Growing Creative Ideas

by Jen Miller   CohenMiller Consulting

Part of what makes the creative process mystifying, and sometimes maddening, is that it’s not very scientific. One might even say it’s a little like farming – mix a few ideas with some day-dreams; do a little scratching in the dirt, a little magic dance, definitely some coffee…. and see what sprouts…hopefully MONEY, or at least an amazing money-making solution.

Unfortunately there are lots of things that can befall our creativity – like drought (no budget, no time), locusts (a.k.a. legal) or frost (innovative idea, but the client gets cold feet and takes the safe route) – all preventing our good ideas from taking root.

Think of all the times you’ve labored over three different concepts and come up with three really great directions but only one was carried out. Or times when you’ve had brainstorming sessions that really clicked but there was no opportunity to give life to the ideas that were cultivated.

Think of all the whining you’ve heard from clients about wanting more “strategic creative” attention to a project – but of course they still need it tomorrow and there’s no budget for anything unusual or innovative.

At a time when everyone seems consumed with “green-this”, and “organic-that”, it’s little wonder that more light than ever is shining on this earthy thing called design. Whether it’s the light that makes things grow stronger or harsh light that makes them wilt, all our good ideas deserve a chance.

So, why not start an idea garden?

Gardens are evocative. Whether they’re secret gardens, Zen gardens, rooftop gardens, or The Garden of Eden, they have an allure about them that draws people in. You expect a wonderfully sensory experience in a garden, and maybe even a little magic. What better place for people to explore creative ideas – breath in their scent, see them the way they were intended, without deadlines and approvals hanging over them?

Your idea garden could be a website or a blog or any type of collaboration tool – just a place where ideas can be planted and shared. They may hang out as seeds and never turn into something more. But more likely, there will come a time when the good idea that wasn’t right in one situation, works perfectly in another. Some of the ideas may cross-pollinate with others and become even better hybrids.

Whether the idea seeds are just inspired thoughts (e.g. something you noticed while on vacation or in line at the coffee shop) or full-blown concepts that have merit and require just a little nurturing to grow into winning creative solutions – all good ideas can be arranged in your idea garden, on display for anyone who cares to take a look.

Clients will feel privileged to have access to such a wealth of creativity and they may even be inspired to champion something that’s outside their conservative comfort zone.  In any case you’ll feel good that your creative thoughts and energy have a place to live and hopefully grow.

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