Friday, 16 July 2010

Creativity Technique: Reversals

Continuing with the theme of creativity, in this blog I'll give you a useful technique. There are literally hundreds of techniques and methods for generating creative ideas in any endeavour. One of the problems with many of them is that they are better done in groups and with some supervision. In the events industry, we seldom have the time to bring everyone together for brainstorming sessions or to apply strict rules to our idea generation. Luckily, there are much simpler ways to get ideas. One of my favourites is called "Reversals."

The world is full of opposites. Any leader knows that in order to lead well, the leader must learn to follow. Many successful, rich people got there because they once lived poorly. Night turns into day. Winter turns to summer. Problem solving using reversals is a simple and very effective method to get directly to a unique solution if one learns to see things backwards, inside out, or upside down. Here are some ways to do it.

  • State the problem in reverse. Instead of pondering the question, “How do we get more attendees through our gate and avoid lineups,” consider the question, “How do we get more gates to the attendees?” With minimal thought this could lead to a solution of putting multiple gates farther away from the event site, or perhaps even selling combined entrance/transit tickets if attendees take buses or the subway to the event.
  • Do what everyone else is not doing. For example, if everyone else is producing politically correct events, consider producing a tongue-in-cheek, politically incorrect event.
  • Make the statement negative. If, for example, you need to set up all the lights for an event in two hours, consider what would happen if you did not set up any lights in two hours. Where might this lead? Perhaps it would lead to a novel solution of having attendees providing all the lighting using some sort of lanterns they were given as they entered the event. 
  • The “What-If” scenario. This takes any number of situations starting with a “what if” question and applies them to the problem. For example, “What if we ----- magnified it, shrunk it, froze it, heated it, rearranged it, eliminated part of it, put it to another use, changed its shape, etc?” A personalized list can easily be made up for using this method. As an example, how do we solve the rather mundane production problem of ground level dry ice fog being used as a surprise entrance effect, drifting away when the doors open? Let’s apply the “what if” scenario and look at magnifying it (could maybe lead to more fog in the entrance foyer as well), or rearranging it (could maybe lead to putting it in select corners of the event venue at certain times only), or putting it to another use (could maybe lead to using dry ice fog as part of the actual meal service by the wait staff). Obviously, there are many ways to create new approaches to solve the problem.
Try some of these out the next time you need to come up with new ideas in a hurry for a proposal and you will be surprised at the interesting concepts that emerge from your brain.

See one of my new books, Special Event Production: The Process, for more creativity trechniques.