On Wednesday, March 1st, AMA Baltimore welcomed Erik Hansen, President and Chief Creative Officer and Katie Hansen, Vice President and Chief Experience Officer, of Mekanic for an informative session to showcase their strategy on how to unlock the powers of ideation. Our friends at Groove, a creative marketing, design, and development agency headquartered in Baltimore hosted this recent AMA in the PM event. A special shout out to The Creative Group who was also an event partner for this AMAzing evening.
Erik and Katie’s presentation titled “Don’t Deteriorate. Ideate and Regenerate!” focused on ideation and how leading brands continue to deliver value in ways they didn’t even know they needed. Ideation seems to be forward concept and is the creative process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas. Any new idea can easily stay a new idea. Therefore, we all must find a continual way to ideate while progressing toward our or our clients’ objective. Katie and Erik have found a way to bring those “big, moonshot” ideas into reality and help companies tap ideation through their workshops. So, let’s take deeper peek at a few of the key takeaways from their session on ideation and team collaboration which they cover during their workshops.
Let’s go to the moon!
Katie and Erik reminded us of the importance to think big and use moonshot thinking within our marketing community.
Not familiar with moonshot thinking? It’s a way to disrupt your industry and beat the competition inspired by Google X and Peter Diamandis. Below is a video which explains this concept.
JFK’s declaration of going to the moon didn’t happen overnight, but came to fruition. So, how in a decade were we able to accomplish this mission? Katie and Erik highlighted it took a strong sense of creative and collaborate thinking of many engineers to get there. No one does it alone. They reviewed the fact the it takes a concerted, multi-influenced effort to allow new ideas to flow into progression toward your objective. Now, let’s walk through their workshop wisdom.
Set the stage.
Kate and Erik suggest that assembling the right team to participate in your collaboration process is critical to allow an idea to become tangible. Including those key “hidden figures” to be part of the discussion allows those important thoughts to be present in your concept or creation. Look no further than the recent film “Hidden Figures,” which highlights NASA’s growing pains of allowing the right members to be at the table.
Katie and Erik suggest getting a cross-functional mix of employees by roles and hierarchy, variation of age, color, and personality types. This diversity allows for a combination of mind to collaborate in their approach to their objective. Additionally, they suggest assigning homework for your group that is in relation to the workshop.
Lastly, they state is essential to establish the rules of engagement. They suggest methods like “yes, and approach” (never refute and idea but push it along by saying yes, and…), toss up all ideas before elimination, and agree quickly rather than having 10 people repeat the agreement.
Prepare the flow.
Once you have a team, venue, and rules, they suggest having a team warm up. Below is a paper airplane that a group of AMA members built together during our AMA in the PM event, however each person was only allowed to use one hand.
Then you need to facilitate a group discussion how to frame and properly your objective. Once that is settled, your diverse team can clarify what your deliverables should be to execute your agreed upon ideation.
After your deliverables are set, they state it is essential to get small group to start tacking some of the ways to implement these deliverables.
The final step being sharing and evaluating these ideas that came from the different small groups. They suggest creating a process where you capture the stronger ideas and eliminate that irrelevant ones to the problem at hand. Once you have vetted the ideas, it essential to create a timeline. In the case of the space race, that timeline was against a competitor, just like many brands we know today.
Facilitate and lead.
Then have you break into direct small groups that can tackle the components of the agreed solutions to their problem. Ask each small group to role play the competitors’ position and state the constrains of each idea.
After a long day of idea thinking, it is not a bad time to have a palate cleanser. In the book, “The Power of Habit,” the author reminds us that humans have only a certain amount of willpower. Once this willpower is used up, our brain function begins to have diminishing returns. A palate cleanser like taking a walk, or watching a fun creative video, allows the brain to reset and save up some of the willpower for use later in the process.
It is imperative to return with a renewed spirit and refine the ideas. Katie and Erik suggest placing the whole team to look at each idea with a structured approach in assessing every idea. Then place the ideas into batches and ask some important questions:
- Is it feasible?
- Does it align with our strategy?
- Will this idea move the needle?
Lastly, once the idea process has produced a viable idea, the focus turns to activation. This is where the team will develop, pilot, and test the idea. Important elements are mapping out milestones and assigning tasks.
Landing on the moon.
Erik and Katie displayed that is takes effort, it takes ingenuity, and the constant willingness to push others ideas rather than boxing them out to be successful. Also, their method showcases how important it is to have your staff be part of a process that allows staff to contribute effectively. This work is one of the most critical pieces to get an idea from the ideation state and turning it into a reality. As Erik states, “it is great to plan, but doing is the important part.”
We thank Katie and Erik for their insights! In case you missed their session, here’s a link to a photo album from the evening. To learn more about Katie and Erik’s viewpoint on ideation, check out Insights on the Mekanic website, where you’ll find their sporadic perspectives to make you think critically and creatively.
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