The Elephant Boy in the Room


Sometimes, a name is just a name.

By Jen Arnold

A former colleague, Matt Benson, always liked to name one concept in each ideation session “Elephant Boy”. It was mostly to see how our facilitator and artist would draw a kid with an elephant head, and it always gave an otherwise stressed-out team some giggles.

Think about the last time you had a meeting that demanded you think of new, creative ideas. The presence of immediacy and demand probably blocked the production of ideas (creative or not). When it comes to creating beginning product concept ideas, the more ideas you have, the better off you will be. Humor and absurdity can help you get there.

There is something else important to remember here. When you are developing beginning ideas or concepts you should give them catchy names so they will not be easily forgotten. The name does not matter; it is the expansion of that seed idea that is most important. Remember, you and your team may be developing hundreds of concepts, and you will want to know which ones are important to you.

About this, Matt, who is now Advanced Innovation Manager with Faurecia, said:

 Interesting names can serve to make an idea memorable and engage colleagues. Names also are part of making an idea generation meeting an enjoyable activity. Having fun helps to lubricate the flow of ideas.

The objectives in any brainstorming session should be to generate ideas around your given task by probing in-depth and developing hundreds of seed ideas which will then be developed into beginning concepts. The best way is to conduct a multiple-day session with a core team and an expanded team plus internal and external resources. The more participants, the more ideas you will have! Innovation Focus also likes to add in facilitated creativity exercises and excursions plus developmental ideation. This helps to provoke participants to think of the most ridiculous, preposterous or possibly unreasonable ideas.

Crazy or absurd names, words or ideas, can help people think more creatively. They give the mind permission to think of anything. They help encourage colleagues to think more freely, less constricted. An open space for creativity, of any kind, helps promote idea generation.

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