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Getting the most out of the Idea Machine

Innovate or die has become a bit of a mantra in recent times. Clients and agencies alike continually seek new ideas to gain that critical competitive advantage; which puts a lot of pressure on the idea machines, in other words every one of us, to be more creative.

Whisper this softly, but game changing ideas are created in the brain, not (solely) on beanbags.

The problem we face of course is… our brains on their own aren’t particularly conducive to creative thinking.

Your brain has to cope with around 2 million bits of raw sensory data per second and has developed mechanisms to process and make meaning of this information overload. From birth the brain interprets and classifies new information by looking for similarities with what’s already on file. Whatever you do, whenever you think your past actions and experiences are used as a point of reference for new thoughts, making it very hard to think truly differently.

To get creative you need to force your brain out of these patterns of the past.


A. When you first come across something new, your brain has to make new links across a whole network of neurons to make sense of it
B. After several exposures a much smaller subset of neurons is needed to process it. Your brain’s drive to become more efficient limits its ability to create new connections. Great for thinking quickly, less so for generating new ideas

Making these new neural connections on demand, in time for a deadline is difficult.

While it might feel like an idea has suddenly arrived on the scene in a flash of inspiration the process is actually the result of time, experience and some interesting stimulus.

Which is why at Vizeum we focus on creativity as something that isn’t the work of the lone genius but something we all are responsible for.

Initiatives such as our Start from the Different Place Bursary and the monthly Random Experience Fridays ensure fresh stimulus is always present., while our creativity training programme equips people with useful techniques and tools to run more effective brainstorms… and ultimately helps the brain break out of those patterns it loves to rely on.

We’re not waiting for ideas, we’re working at them.

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