One of my favorite SXSW sessions today was “Brainstorming Technology First.” It was presented by an agency and they provided real examples with actionable steps for implementing a technology-first approach to brainstorming projects. R/GA created this process to counter the consistent problem they were encountering where an idea was generated then the question “is this possible” was asked to the technologist. Their desired outcome was to know that something was possible and that it was possible to do well as the idea was generated.
Tech First Brainstorming Framework
- Still start with creative brief. But choose a technology that is relevant to the audience and hardcode it into the brief. It should be a technology that is specific to your audience. The more granular you can be, the better. For example, not “mobile apps,” but “Passbook for iOS.”
- Time box brainstorm session at one hour. Get everyone on the team at the same time in the room. Present the brief. Then give them 5-8 people to silently write their own answers to the questions in the brief. It is really important to let them work silently first.
- Spend next 45 minutes sharing their ideas and encourage creative riffing.
- Then the senior leadership team should take the ideas and distill them and craft them into something presentable.
- This is an efficient process because 90% of ideas that come out are feasible because we have embraced the constraints on the front end and we don’t have to ask if this is possible.
Examples of Approaches
- Fill in the blanks: give people a grammar and a framework to tell stories.
- Magnetic poetry: provide a list of descriptors and a list of technology, then mix and match to get creative.
- Branded magnetic poetry: same as above, but brand specific.
- Social media API roulette: pick two very specific API points from two different networks and ask what can be created by combining the two.
As technology is integrated more and more each day in our activities and communications, thinking about how an idea can be executed as part of the technology rather than being retrofitted into the technology is increasingly important. This approach to brainstorming can help agencies and brands make the transition in their thinking about technological communications.