Ready… Set… Go!

8 June 2023
8 June 2023 Martin Cheetham

Ideation is vital for innovation. And to ideate we need to turn up the flow of our creative juices. But just as with any sport or physical activity, warming up is an important component if we want to get the best out of any ideation sessions (whether alone or in teams).

Warming up our brains prior to ideation can help to improve our creative thinking and problem-solving abilities. Just like warming up before exercising, warming up the brain can help to get the blood flowing and increase neural activity, which can help to improve cognitive performance.

So without further ado, here are 5 warm-up exercises that can help get your creative juices flowing before an ideation session:

1. Mind Mapping: This exercise involves creating a visual map of ideas related to your topic. Start with a central idea in the middle of the page and then branch out with related ideas and concepts. This exercise can help you generate new ideas and connections between them.

2. Word Association: Choose a word related to your topic and write down as many related words as you can think of. Then, choose one of those words and repeat the process. This exercise can help you generate new ideas and connections between them.

3. Random Word Generation: Choose a random word and try to come up with as many ideas as possible related to that word. This exercise can help you think outside the box and generate new ideas.

4. Squiggle Birds (one of my favorites): Have everyone in the group draw 3 random squiggles. Then give them a short time limit (eg 3 mins) to turn those squiggles into at least three birds, starting with the main characteristics of birds (beaks, wings etc). This helps the brain identify patterns and draw connections.

5. Improv Games: Play a game that involves improvisation, such as “Yes, and…” where each person adds to the story with a positive contribution. This exercise can help you build on each other’s ideas and generate new ones.

“There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.” – Edward De Bono

In addition, warming up the brain can also help to reduce stress and anxiety, which can be major barriers to creative thinking and problem-solving. By reducing stress and anxiety levels, you may be more open to new ideas and less likely to be held back by negative thoughts or self-doubt.

Overall, warming up prior to ideation can be an effective way to improve your creative and problem-solving abilities, and help you to approach challenges with a fresh and open mindset. And it’s fun. I think we all need a little more fun in our lives…