As a Creative Technologist I am regularly challenged with the task of coming up with big creative technology integrations. With something that seems to change so rapidly, how do you stay on top of current trends and more importantly how do you build on these advancements.

In this post I’ll share my approach to big thinking with technology. First we’ll explore some of the more important components to be mindful of during the brainstorm process and then we’ll get into more specific ways you can continue to stay ahead of the game.

The Truth About Original Ideas

First we need to accept a hard truth. Original ideas are almost non-existent in this day and age. People like to argue me on this but it’s less about the truth itself and more about the mindset it encourages. Our ideas are really just the recollection of previous thoughts and experiences re-purposed for the case at hand.

I help teach a marketing class at Boston University and our brand insights group shows the students an awesome video about how easily we can be manipulated. Derren Brown, who admittedly I am a geek about, meets up with two of the top creative advertising minds in London. They are tasked with coming up with a name, slogan and some creative for a new company and have a half hour to do it. Long story short, Derren pretty much predicts the outcome by controlling what the creatives see on their way over to meet with Derren.

So rather than fight this truth I like to embrace it. Instead of constantly trying to find something new or original I try to make things better by finding ways to add more value.

Bad Ideas Lead To Good Ideas

I had the wonderful opportunity to take part in some digital marketing brainstorms for a popular children’s toy brand. We worked alongside representatives from Facebook, Google and another agency I have huge respect for. The only rule going into the brainstorms was “Don’t poop in the pool”. Basically, anything goes. Even if you know something is physically impossible continue to explore and push the idea until it becomes something more tangible.

Being creative in groups can be intimidating, especially when you’re dealing with big egos. This rule puts everyone on a level playing field and encourages true collaboration. It’s something I constantly remind myself of and is a lot of fun to yell out in a meeting when someone is squashing ideas.

Always Be Learning

I’m in an industry where it pays to know a little about everything over a lot about some things. I can’t physically know everything but I’ve developed routines that allow me to make the best use of my time while seemingly keeping up with popular trends.

The key is to find what works best for you. For me, I rely heavily on Reddit, Circa, RSS Feeds and internal collaboration at my company. I’ve found ways to consume content efficiently both on and offline and have even begun to consolidate things I find interesting on a site I’ve created called Think.JonBishop.com (Work in progress).

I don’t read every word of every article I find and I often fast forward through videos. The goal is to just get the main idea and move on. It becomes just another idea or experience I can draw on later.

No One Is Smarter Than You, Just Different

I prefer large brainstorms to small ones because together we just have more collective experience. No single person in that brainstorm is smarter than another because we all know things the others do not. Our individual experiences are all unique and make us who we are. Some of my favorite digital extensions to campaigns have come from non-digital folks talking about a real life problem or experience and together we were able to create something extraordinary.

Don’t Be Afraid Of Technology

I find people know more about technology than they realize. Technology is not the code the drives it or the hardware that makes it do things. It’s the tools we use to make our lives easier. By thinking about it in the abstract we better understand its purpose and can help bring it to the next level. Technology exists to add value to our lives by solving problems and making our lives easier. Through that context we can help push it forward and truly think big.

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