A Picture Is Worth A Thousand . . . IDEAS!

To those of you who read the previous blog entry (“Brainstorming Is Dead. Long Live Brainstorming.”), welcome back.  To those of you sneaking in after Intermission, welcome aboard.

Either way, I will make good on my promise to literally illustrate for you how to make brainstorming more effective.   

But first, we have to get the right side of your brain and the left side of your brain to stop fighting with each other.  And to do that, we need an ideation technique that connects both sides of the brain, instead of favoring one side over the other.

Words, I’d like you to meet pictures.  Now, let’s due some actual “whole-brained thinking.”

A word about words.  Remember, text only appeared a few thousand years ago, and our weary brains have to scan individual characters one at a time.  Then we have to recognize them.  Then we have to piece them together into comprehensible words and phrases. 

Sounds like a lot of work, because it is.

However, our visual system easily processes images.  In fact, our very human need for imagery probably explains why YouTube and Instagram exist, along with driving other paradigm shifts in our behavior, such as shopping online.  Can you imagine browsing on Amazon without product images?

Speaking of humans, we don’t do very well with large amounts of words.  Reading takes time and big blocks of copy are overwhelming.  It’s not hard to understand why 92% of Google users click on a link from the very first page of results.  Who wants to keep scrolling through more pages?

So why does traditional brainstorming still insist upon someone standing at an easel or dry erase board writing down ideas over a din?  Because s/he has the best penmanship, of course.

Wouldn’t it be better to try and capture those newborn bouncing baby ideas in pictures . . . especially since that’s the way we process new information best.

There’s a reason the expression is: “Let me show you how it’s done” and not “let me tell you how it’s done.”  Besides, we all see better than we hear.

At Upstream 360, we figured out that there is a proven ideational advantage to having an InnoVisionist™ at each table literally illustrating visuals of the concepts and ideas being bandied about. 

Better yet, illustrations allow our minds to “read things” into pictures that we can’t read into finite words with set definitions.  Our InnoVisionSessions succeed because they uncover the Rosetta Stone that the father of traditional brainstorming Alex Osborn could not find:  a way to truly free the minds (and more importantly the imaginations) of the participants.

By connecting both sides of the brain through words and pictures, it’s easier to incorporate patterning, metaphors, analogies, role-playing, and movement into a brainstorming session that could otherwise be a more calculated analytical activity.

Another benefit of filling a room with visuals instead of scribbled words is that illustrated ideas are easier to remember and build upon/optimize later. 

But you already know this.  That’s why you’re good with faces, but can’t remember names!

Innovation is hard work.  And innovating the right products, features, and benefits is even harder.  But there is a better way to ensure you get what you want. 

Seeing is believing.  And visuals get you to think in unique and unusual ways, which leads to better ideas. 

Get the picture?

Mark Smith is the Chief Creative Officer for Upstream 360 and the father of a teenage daughter.  He stays motivated by the twin powers of doubt and insecurity, while his approach to the work is making it legitimately interesting, shareable, and something people can connect with. 


Mark is also an author of the book Innovation Myths and Mythstakes, available in hardcover, paperback, Kindle and coming soon on Audible.  https://www.amazon.com/Innovation-Myths-Mythstakes-Timothy-Coffey/dp/0980174570