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Creativity is Lurking Inside Your Company: Do You Know How to Find It?

Quirk’s Marketing Review (2/1998)

By: Michelle Taufmann

If your company is looking for the next breakthrough idea to help expand your marketing opportunities, the answer might be closer than you think! Consider conducting internal creativity sessions among your own staff members. With an internal ideation session, led by an experienced facilitator, you can take advantage of the creative talents and unique perspectives already at your fingertips to generate hundreds of fresh ideas — for barely a dent in the department pocketbook.

Contrary to popular belief, innovation is not necessarily born from the creative or marketing departments alone. Truly novel ideas can come from a wide range of individuals offering diverse perspectives from their own unique views of the world. After all, take off our work hats and we are all customers and consumers. By simply tapping into the creativity of a diverse range of staff members throughout the organization, from research and development, to public relations, human resources, and production — and even the number crunchers, you are expanding the breadth and diversity of ideas generated. The key is getting participants from outside the project staff.

The generation of many new ideas is certainly not the only benefit of conducting internal creativity sessions. Utilizing internal resources, rather than recruiting outside talent, can save your company valuable time and money. Eliminating external recruiting can help reduce the project’s turnaround time by more than two weeks. And best of all, inviting employees to participate in creativity sessions shows them that your company really values their input. This type of employee recognition can prove to be a real morale and motivation booster.

Positive and lasting

Another benefit of internal ideation is that it can have a positive and lasting influence on your marketing Team. Facilitated effectively, an internal ideation session establishes a culture of innovation that strongly rewards openness, enthusiasm, uncensored thinking and new ideas — and discourages (tactfully and with humor) the “evaluation reflex” — our natural tendency to judge new ideas. (Dismissing new ideas before they are given adequate consideration is the quickest route to “same old same old.”) An idea generation session held early in the new product development effort can establish momentum and a productive attitude that will help launch a stronger, better product.

When should you conduct internal ideation? Whenever you are seeking fresh perspectives or a unique way to differentiate your product or service. Internal ideation is often the ideal choice when you want to generate ideas for new:

  • business opportunities;
  • products/line or brand extensions;
  • positioning strategies;
  • product features, benefits;
  • promotions;
  • packaging;
  • public relations efforts;
  • themes and imagery.

What is the most critical factor contributing to the success of an idea generation project? Accurate definition of the session parameters. That is, making sure you’re creating solutions to the right problem. Internal idea generation is most effective when the client and facilitator go into the session with an in-depth understanding of, 1) how the results will be applied, 2) the ideas that have already been explored in previous efforts, 3) the types of ideas that would be considered for implementation, 4) the types of ideas that would not be considered for implementation or are beyond the scope of the current project.

Other tips for conducting a successful internal idea generation session include:

  • Allow sufficient time for planning.
  • Choose your ideation Team carefully to achieve a broad range of perspectives and right and left brain thinking; avoid idea killers!
  • Choose your facilitator just as carefully: he or she plays a critical role in drawing out ideas from everyone and keeping the session focused.
  • Pre-brief your idea generation consultant on any hidden agendas or political land mines that could handicap the project.
  • Hold the session off-site to get participants away — physically and mentally — from the structured, evaluative, hierarchical office environment.
  • Position the session as a perk for participants.
  • Promote a casual atmosphere for the day.
  • Have fun!

Out of the box

As Socrates said, “If you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you always got!” Next time you’re looking for a few bright ideas, tap the talents of your colleagues first, with an internal creative session. Getting out of the box can be easier — and less expensive — than you think!

“I have used Doyle Research on numerous occasions, and have found the team to be knowledgeable, creative in recommending solutions for qualitative that works, able to turn on a dime when we needed it. We’ve had solid results and some highly insightful analysis that opened business partner eyes to some things they didn’t know but needed to.”

Consumer Insights | DeVry University

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