Student perspective: How to generate creative and innovative ideas in group work

by Beth Robinson, Bristol Futures AdvocatePhoto of Beth, author of the blog

For many people, challenging their assumptions about what it means to be creative can be difficultespecially for those who already define themselves as being either distinctly creative or decidedly not creative.

It can be easy to define yourself and your own level of success, but working creatively in a group is, in my experience, completely different. I’ve learned that it‘s so much more than ‘what the best and worst ideas are’, and ‘brainstorming creative ideas.’ Today I’d like to share some tips and links which I hope you might find useful when trying to generate new ideas and projects in a team. 

Key things I’ve learned  

1) ‘No ideas should be left behind’. Irrespective of how good, bad or even ridiculous you think an idea is, keep it written down. It may have had a detailed thought process behind it which wasn’t expressed more clearly, and/or could provide some inspiration later.

2) ‘There are no such thing as bad ideas, only opportunities for growth’. If you think someone has suggested a bad idea, consider it an opportunity for further innovation. Instead of saying ‘no’, say ‘yes – AND *suggest a way to further the idea*’

3) Have fun! In using some of these techniques, groups I work with have written some peculiar sounding words or suggestions to begin – often completely different from the brief. But these initial ideas are springboards and prompts, and don’t have to be perfect before you say them out loud

Some techniques 

These techniques are designed to help with idea generation and to boost creativity, and further information on them can be found by clicking on the links:

  • ‘Random Pictures’ – starting with a random picture, writing down random words associated with it, and then working on relating these to the subject matter (Random Images Technique).

  • ‘Out-and-out-reversal – creating a statement which is the opposite of what you want to achieve and working out how to solve the problem to then apply it to the initial brief – this is my personal favourite! (Reversal)

  • ‘Bringing in time’ – when you start to build ideas, ask ‘how would I go about this if I had only one day to execute it? Or one month? A year, or century? This can be helpful in working out anything related to logistics in a project. 

There then, of course, needs to be a slightly more ‘down to earth’ selection, refinement, and structuring process of developing the idea fully. One way to approach this is to build on any ideas you’ve generated and then make them better by creating timelines, asking questions, and using the SWOT technique (SWOTto critically analyse concepts.

I hope that some of these tips will help you as they’ve helped me in finding it easier to innovate in a group setting. Of course, different things work for different people, so leave any tips, problems, and solutions in the comments section, we’d love to hear from you! 

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