Creative Thinking Tools Creativity Design Thinking Teams


The input phase of the process where the team learns to eat sleep and breathe the sub­ject of the brief. In order for this to work effec­tive­ly it is impor­tant that we learn to come to terms with our fil­ters. Through­out our lives we have been devel­op­ing fil­ters through which we see the world. These fil­ters can be bro­ken down into:

  • Val­ues
  • Beliefs
  • Prej­u­dice
  • Cul­ture
  • Lan­guage
  • Mem­o­ry
  • Meta Behav­iours

Each of the above con­tributes to who we are as indi­vid­u­als and how we form opin­ions, but in order for use to be tru­ly diver­gent in our think­ing we need to see past our fil­ters and seek new expe­ri­ences, ide­olo­gies and con­cepts. By ques­tion­ing and chal­leng­ing our­selves we can take our work in unexpected/unintended direc­tions. Begin by gath­er­ing:

  • Inter­est­ing Sto­ries
  • Videos
  • Pho­tos
  • Arti­cles
  • Sketch­es

These sources should not always be dig­i­tal and the inter­net is only one source of great mate­r­i­al. Books, jour­nals and mag­a­zines have the advan­tage and dis­ad­van­tage of being curat­ed con­tent which can save time and ener­gy ini­tial­ly. They are also dat­ed time cap­sules mak­ing it eas­i­er to spot trends both past and present.

These sources are trig­gers for thoughts, mem­o­ries, con­ver­sa­tions, from which a thou­sand ideas can grow. It is impor­tant that we check our fil­ters when view­ing sources and make sure that we are not unknow­ing­ly edit­ing out source mate­r­i­al with­out being daft and let­ting every­thing in regard­less of rel­e­vance.

Get out and expe­ri­ence the real world, be empa­thet­ic, meet the peo­ple who may ulti­mate­ly inter­act with the prod­uct of the brief. Explore the envi­ron­ment which will be effect­ed by the prod­uct. Take pic­tures, videos and notes, try to under­stand the human needs of the design process be an anthro­pol­o­gist. Under­stand the who and where before address­ing the what, why or when.

Is the brief some­thing com­plete­ly rev­o­lu­tion­ary or are their oth­er product/services already avail­able that are close to or already ful­fil the require­ment of the brief. If so what are they? What can we learn from them? How are they per­form­ing? What are their strengths and weak­ness­es? Should we stand on the shoul­ders of giants? What would a com­plete­ly new offer­ing look, sound, taste, smell or feel like?

Inspi­ra­tions should be shared vis­i­bly and open­ly with the group. Avoid any urge to pro­tect or hide good sources for per­son­al gain, think­ing they might come in handy lat­er. Instead look around at the inspi­ra­tions added by the team and bounce off them in order to build on their influ­ence. Acknowl­edge and encour­age the ideas you like, refrain from crit­i­cism or dis­cour­age­ment at any stage. Talk open­ly with each oth­er through­out the process, rather then work silent­ly in cor­ners.

Creating Whitespace—Identifying Themes

The sec­ond step of the Inspire phase is to orga­nize the insights devel­oped by the team. Each Pos­tit is moved indi­vid­u­al­ly and dis­cussed by the team as it is placed beside notes to which it has some­thing in com­mon. As each note is organ­ised white­space is cre­at­ed and the clusters/themes become clear­ly defined. Each team is then asked to devel­op a nar­ra­tive to describe and estab­lish the rela­tion­ships, if any there is between each clusters/theme.