August 2017

Idea Generation: Great Ideas Are Looking Up

2017-08-28T09:47:57-04:00 Categories: SandBlog, think|Tags: , , , , |

Ever wonder why great ideas seem to pop into your head at the strangest (and sometimes inopportune) times? Like when you’re… falling asleep, in the shower, or exercising? It’s not a coincidence. These are times when your body is switched to autopilot, and your conscious mind doesn’t need to labor to perform these routine tasks. So the mind creatively wanders and processes other stuff. Processes thoughts and problems that have been churning in the ‘back of your mind.’

But, what if you could harness this as a skill and use it at will?

It’s probably not realistic to think you’ll be able to tell your boss…

“I just finished lunch and will have some BIG ideas for you later this afternoon! I’ve got to try to fall asleep first!”

So if a midday nap or at-work shower isn’t practical, what else could you do to allow your mind to creatively wonder? Idea Sandbox recommends:

Cloud Gazing


Yep, that’s right. The same techniques you used when you were a kid (i.e. looking up at clouds, inspired by their formations, and seeing shapes… ducks, bunnies, and bears) can be used to arouse great ideas.

So how does it work?

The secret to this technique is to allow your mind to drift – like the clouds – versus concentrating. Take a 15 to 30-minute recess from your project. Get outside, or at least to a big window – and gaze. Toss your (problem, opportunity, challenge) out to the clouds, relax, let your mind wander, and see what forms.

I can’t guarantee every time that the new bottle design you need will reveal itself in cloud shapes. Or that forming clouds will definitely inspire the new customer communication strategy you’re seeking. However, I can assure that you’ll be a bit more relaxed, energized, and focused when you return to your desk.

I hope you give Cloud Gazing a try and see if it works for you. Good luck! And remember… only use your new Cloud Gazing powers to do good!

August 2011

Four Stages In The Vintage Creative Thought Process

2011-08-11T23:06:34-04:00 Categories: create, grow, SandBlog, solve, think|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

When the German physiologist and physicist Hermann Helmholtz was seventy years old [in 1898], he was asked at his birthday party to analyze his thought processes. Later, Graham Wallas, in his [1926] book The Art of Thought, formulated Helmholtz’s ideas into the familiar four stages:

  1. preparation,
  2. incubation,
  3. inspiration, and
  4. verification.


The preparation step consists of observing, listening, asking, reading, collecting, comparing, contrasting, analyzing, and relating all kinds of objects and information.


The incubation process is both conscious and unconscious. This step involves thinking about parts and relationships, reasoning, and often a fallow period.


Inspirations very often appear during this fallow period [of incubation]. This probably accounts for the popular emphasis on releasing tensions in order to be creative.


The step labeled verification is a period of hard work. This is the process of converting an idea into an object or into an articulated form.


Analysis of Creativity

Today’s article is an excerpt from a piece written by Mel Rhodes in April 1961 titled: An Analysis of Creativity. It can be found in the education association journal: The Phi Delta Kappan, (Vol. 42, No 7).

So, I’ve developed the secret recipe for the world’s best brainstorming sessions. I call it the 3Ps: People, Place, and Process. You can read a bit about it here.

In June of this year I spoke at the Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI) Conference. When when I submitted my 3Ps topic, they told me there was already a thing called the 4Ps. They referenced this Rhodes article.

I’ve been searching high-and-low for this article and finally found it last month, in bound version, at the great downtown Seattle Public Library.

After reading it, there isn’t that much similarity, Rhodes’ 4Ps and my 3Ps except for the name. However, the Creative Education Foundation (who hosts the CPSI conferences) is specifically mentioned.

I plan to share the entire article on Idea Sandbox, but wanted to share a bit of it with you today. These are “vintage” ideas about creativity tossed around back in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The body content below is from the original article. The formatting is mine. Changes are indicated [within brackets].

June 2007

Opening the Door on Inspiration

2011-04-13T23:43:40-04:00 Categories: Destination, SandBlog, solve|Tags: , , |

As problem solvers, we marketers should constantly scan for creative inspiration.


Here is a Flash-based animation I bumped into today… It’s a cartoon by artist Pascal Campion called “Door.” It features a character trying, without luck, to enter a doorway. Pascal has created over 20 ways for the door to defeat the poor guy…

Seems a challenge to come up with 20 gags for a door… Makes the idea of coming up with ways to excite customers or front-line employees seem a bit easier!

Hmmm… looking at this from another perspective… Perhaps the guy represents annoying solicitors or advertisers. And the Door… annoyed customers.

Either way you look at it, enjoy.

If you have time, browse Pascal’s website and watch some of his other animations – he’s a talented and creative artist.

This animation has no sound. It could be rated PG (for violence), but is work appropriate. If you get ‘busted’ watching it, explain to your boss or co-worker why it is posted here… as inspiration for coming up with clever ideas!