In my last post I described the Kalideascope as a tool for having ideas. You fill it with inputs and then turn it to create new the connections between those inputs which constitute new ideas. In this post I will give an overview of the different kinds of inputs to the creative process you might look for.

But first I need to say a word about this separation of ‘filling’ and ‘turning’. It is handy for me to separate the two because they are both parts of the creative process that, at least in engineering where I come from, get neglected. We can spend some time gathering information and then we can spend some time playing around with those inputs until we find new ideas. But in reality, our brains can’t help but start spotting new patterns as soon as we engage with new inputs – the pre-frontal cortex is an optimised pattern spotting machine.

That said, let’s spend some time thinking about inputs to the creative process to make sure we have our bases covered. There are two categories – inputs in the moment and inputs over time.

Inputs in the moment

These are inputs to the creative process that we gather when we are starting the project. It’s the stuff that we gather from around us that we think would be useful and the stuff that we go out and look for to support the project.

My top five inputs to the process are:

  1. The brief – what the client says they want. The client doesn’t have to be another person, it could be you. The importance is to get some inputs from the user.
  2. The site – no matter whether it is a building, a website or a process your creative work will be ‘situated’ somewhere. Go to that place and absorb whatever inputs you can.
  3. Colleagues and collaborators – their ideas and experiences can be important inputs to your creative thinking
  4. Precedents – similar or relevant work that you have done before. Nothing is new; allow for iteration and repurposing.
  5. What comes to mind – our brains can’t help but generate ideas as we work. So we should make the most of the creative capacity and treat these initial ideas as inputs to our creative process. Capture these thoughts and feed them into the process

Before you delve too deeply into developing the answer try to get good coverage from these top five inputs.

I will talk about ‘inputs over time in tomorrow’s post.