within and beyond 💡
Do you consider yourself a creative person?
In this issue, we’re going to debunk the myth that creativity is innate within people; we’re instead going to explore how creativity can be learned and put into action by everyone.
We’ll first examine the ideation phase and explore how ideas originate and how they can be pursued. Then, we’ll consider how Spark SC board members ideate, noting their best practices for cultivating creativity.
Enjoy the issue below,
So, what is an idea? An idea, as we understand it, is a possible course of action. This could be an action to create a film, to mobilize a group of people, or to even articulate a complex topic — it could truly be anything.
But, where do these possible courses of actions come from? Sometimes they creep up on us while we’re asleep, but most of the time ideas are not found in passive states. Ideas come from being present. Observing, learning, and being aware of how different things in the world look, feel, and operate can help us identify problems we want to fix or even visions we want to manifest.
Our Advice: Try to become more aware of your thoughts throughout the day, specifically the mental tangents that circle around a problem in your life.
The problem can be a small as the aglet on your shoelace fraying too quickly or even as significant as global warming. Scribble down your ideas on paper or record them with voice memos. Document your ideas in any way you feel most comfortable.
Take, for instance, Allie’s1 desk predicament:
Your solutions may appear to be mundane, nonsensical, and impractical (since it might be a little difficult to just stop using desks), but, with more practice and diligent tracking, silly problems with equally silly solutions can be morphed into pursuable ideas.
In the end, we encourage you to pursue ideas that are actionable. Although actionable ideas vary from person to person, a pursuable idea should be realistic and practical for the majority of individuals who may experience this problem.
Once you identify a pursuable idea, you can then share your idea with your friends and family. The most important aspect in developing an idea, as we believe, is collaboration since great power comes from the hands of many.
Even Spark SC, at one point, was just an idea that started in a USC dorm. Read more about here.
How Spark SC Ideates
At Spark SC, our members have found different ways to cultivate creativity. We’ve included some of our favorite advice below.
Tip 1.1: Keep a collection of all sources of inspiration — big or small
I save everything. I have a database of images, quotes, paintings, videos and anything else I find cool that is automatically categorized and tagged for me. Try to separate the activity of ideation from feeling like a job or a chore.
Tip 1.2: Think of ideation as growing a plant vs a strike of genius
Ideating doesn’t have to be a eureka moment. It starts with a feeling or a want that grows into a seedling of an idea. It’s nurtured over time by the advice and input of the people I trust and grows as my values and technical skill set grows and changes as well. Everything comes in time, don’t waste a good idea because you are impatient.
Tip 2.1: Choose a process that is iterative, long-term, and enables accountability
The process usually starts with the inspiration phase, with taking in as much information as possible around a subject. Then, I define the problem or situation at hand, and I try to piece together the ideas to bring me from problem to solution. It’s easy to hold myself accountable when I have the time, but otherwise it takes active determination so the results don’t suffer.
Tip 3.1: Remember that ideation is just a fancy word for brainstorming
Don’t get intimidated by the term. I ideate everywhere, from what I’m going to eat and wear that day, to what work I’m going to prioritize and how. I give myself the time and space to just live in my mind for sometime and see what comes out of it without much pressure. I’m inspired by certain people around me, images and music.
Tip 3.2: Understand the balance between quantity and quality
While there is a creative benefit to coming up with as many ideas as possible for as many things as possible, it’s important to not divide your intelligence and effort between those things too much. Especially in the later ideation stages, focusing and fleshing out on a more concentrated collection of ideas can give them the potential to be more impactful and actionable.
A Creative Exercise
Now that we’ve discussed the ideation process, it’s time for a creative exercise. We designed a brainstorming activity on FigJam, a collaborative software that makes brainstorming easier. The instructions are simple:
Identify any problem and write it down on our FigJam Board with a sticky note, and then brainstorm solutions to the identified problem. Here’s how to start the activity:
Tip: Use the timer feature on FigJam to see how many solutions you can think of in one minute.
We’re looking forward to look at your stickies – here’s the link to the prompted FigJam!
Looking forward —
Next time, we’ll detail the second phase of the idea → action process: experimentation! Stay tuned for an exploration of user research and testing; we’ll also consider the benefits of collaboration in this next issue.
As for Spark SC updates, come out to our first ever Trojan Marketplace next Wednesday on the University Village Great Lawn from 11-2 PM where we are featuring over 45+ Trojan-owned businesses! To stay updated, follow us on Instagram @trojanmarketplace and add our event to your calendar!