"It's raining on my head, call it brainstorming"

There is something magical that happens in a good brainstorming session. The kind of session that leaves you exited and exhilarated about the concept or project that you are working on. 

Ive been working in production, mainly in the church culture for several years now. I am not the best engineer, leader or manager. I cannot operate all types of cameras or give you a detailed explanation of every fixture type in your lighting rig. What I have found is that true creativity is not bound by budget, it is not limited by time or reasons why it won’t work. It is also not given to the smartest person in the room. Creativity comes with the idea of being open. Looking through a lens that doesn’t have edges or limits. Taking every idea regardless of size and finding a way to make it work.  

Every person is different. Some people like to lock themselves in a dark room and spend hours alone with there thoughts and ideas. I am not one of those people. If I lock myself in a dark room for more than 5 minutes my ideas take me swiftly to a nap. I am at my best when I can dump my ideas on a piece of paper or white board. While writing or drawing, I love to talk my ideas through with others. In this process, I usually stumble upon a million things I want to change about my original idea, but thats the point. For me, my ideas get better through discussion. 

For me, the best formula for a brainstorming session is broken down into 3 steps. 


1. Lay out the goal. 

What is the task at hand? What is the project needing to accomplish. Without understanding the reason why, the ideas will never meet the objectives and address the need. Don’t be afraid to write down key words, phrases, or exact details. Boil the project down to a few simple words or ideas. Without a mark to aim for, you will never hit your target. 


2. Dream. 

The bigger the better. In this phase the word “budget” does not exist. There are no rules, parameters, guardrails or roadblocks. Any thought that says “we can’t do that” should not enter the conversation. The ideas should flow naturally and build off of what others are saying. Do not be afraid of collaboration. Let the ideas go, and try and keep up. 


3. Refinement. 

Begin to come back to reality. Come to terms with budget, timeline and real life factors that can begin to chisel away the impossible from your dream. This phase can be tough. Sometimes an idea can get large enough that during the refinement you feel as if you are losing all the cool aspects. Remember to always revert back to step 1 lay out the goal. Always keep the objectives in front of you. 

These steps have seemed to help me over the years. This process has helped me begin to dream up creative solutions to complex problems. 

I have also learned that this process usually does not fit into a 30 minute meeting. Trying to cram every step into a nice timeline or forced gathering tends to repel creativity. Let ideas sit, marinate, sleep on it and come back the next day ready to dream more.

Creativity is elusive, you have to be willing to chase it. I suggest learning how to run.