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Where do good ideas come from? Slides from last night’s She Says event

Last night was the first ever She Says event in Scotland.  Very exciting to be part of such an auspicious occasion, and in the lovely venue offered by the Leith barge, the Mary of Guise.  We even got to taste their new beverage, Maid In Leith.

The selection of speakers was terrific because we were from quite different skillsets and backgrounds – Carolyn Peacock of BigMouthMedia is an Account Director, specialising in Paid Search, Eilidh McDonald is an illustrator and designer and I’m planning/strategy so although we were all speaking around similar themes our approaches were all quite different.

After the talks there was a lively discussion (involving more beer and wine) about ideas and our experiences.  We also vowed to have another She Says event soon, hopefully in Glasgow.

Anyway, here are my slides and an outline of what I was talking about.

Title slide:

Where do good ideas come from is a good question.  To begin to answer it I did what many people do and googled it, and came across various videos of Steven Johnson talking about his book of the same name.  I jotted down some of my thoughts about what he says…

  1. Good ideas need time.  This is obviously essential.  Thinking time, time to muck about, time to talk, even procrastinate.  It doesn’t really matter what you do with the time, as you are probably processing your thoughts somehow.
  2. Space is also important.  You can’t come up with good ideas if you’re tied to your desk.  Get away, look at things differently.
  3. Johnson doesn’t mention creative people – but I think that the people involved are very important.  They’ve got to be totally prepared to say silly things or make a fool of themselves.  It helps if they’re into new stuff, always trying the latest gadget, going to see films and theatre and new restaurants and so on.  New experiences are important to keep you thinking forwards.
  4. Networks also v important.  TED and twitter are my favourites.  Creative people (except maybe authors) don’t work well for long periods alone.  Virtual networks are fine but you can’t beat being in the same room together speaking like humans.
  5. Johnson thinks environments are important.  Here are some nice creative environments.  Mother has a big concrete table.  St Luke’s was very unusual, we had brand rooms and ball pools and a terrific canteen.  We hotdesked and it worked really well.
  6. This is where I work now – Equator.  The environment is lovely – got a great buzz, we’re all on the same floor, we have glass meeting rooms.  It doesn’t feel ‘closed’.  However, I don’t think environment is that important.  You could just as easily be at the pub.
  7. Or in the shower.  or riding your bike or swimming lengths of your local pool.  Sometimes you need to do something boring and repetitive to think deeply.
  8. But hang on.  Asking where good ideas come from is a bit like asking for the answer without knowing what the question is.
  9. if you’re going to ask where good ideas come from, you need to ask other questions, like what is a good idea, how do you create good ideas, and then how do you know you’ve got a good idea, and is it a good idea if you don’t execute it/well?
  10. Here are some good ideas that I like.  What have they got in common?  First is piano stairs.
  11. A hunter shoots a bear.
  12. Skittles facebook updates
  13. Subservient chicken
  14. Skateistan
  15. Big bean bag
  16. Charity snooze
  17. Playmobil Apple Store
  18. Nike +
  19. Google
  20. HTC
  21. All these ideas, platforms, tactics and campaigns have insight in common.  Many will also have been developed using a strategic process like this.  What’s the point of strategy?
  22. Yogi Bear – if you don’t know where you are going how will you know when you get there?
  23. Little Prince – a goal without a plan is just a wish
  24. So in this strategic process your ideas come from knowing your market, client, brand, and audience inside out, and then playing around with what you know until you find some routes to develop some insights.
  25. Then there’s the steps you take to define your idea further and make it ‘good’.  What’s crucial here is to understand what an insight is, because even though it is fairly old-fashioned, I wholeheartedly believe that it is this that takes you where you want to be.  I am indebted to Simon Law, Phil Teer, Charlie Robertson and a whole lot of other planners for my understanding of this process.
  26. definition
  27. definition
  28. definition
  29. what it’s all about
  30. I like to adapt this, given that we’re not just selling stuff anymore
  31. This is a great way to remember the difference between research and doing something with it.
  32. Revelation is a good wayof thinking about it.  Also the cause and effect-ness of it.
  33. testing it
  34. testing it
  35. testing it
  36. knowing if it’s more than an observation – does it answer ‘why’?
  37. then if it’s a great insight you can create your platform/write your creative brief/create your hero executions
  38. check you have the ecosystem in place to support it
  39. engagement strategy is more than a +1 or a ‘like’
  40. get all that right and you have awesomeness!
  41. remember this is digital – for a quick win you can always stick cats in it (or sex)
  42. thanks for listening




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Tickets for Thursday are going to run out, so be quick!

I might have mentioned that the inaugural She Says Scotland event, ‘Where do good ideas come from?‘ will be taking place on the Leith Barge this Thursday. I’m up early this morning writing my presentation.

It will be much better than anything you’ll see at the Fringe or the Edinburgh International Marketing Festival (depends what you see I guess…)  Not only am I going to be speaking but my pal Eilidh McDonald will be too!  And some other talented creative people I haven’t met yet.  It’s going to be fab.

There are apparently only a few tickets left so if you’re planning on coming, get booking now.

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