Creating something out of nothing happens to be one of the hardest things to do but that is what creative people choose to do for a living.  The pursuit of the lightbulb moment is that journey that creative people make and what keeps a lot of them fired up more than the arriving at the final design project destination. What design teams go through along the way to the final design commonly asks of the creative people in them a tremendous amount of intuitive deciphering. Otherwise known as groking, the nuances that ideas and concepts evolve through also ask of designers a keen sense of discernment between what’s visual and what’s decidedly conceptual. How the concept morphs into the visually tangible then becomes the process.

Mind mapping

All design projects begin as a problem to be solved. How to solve that problem comes aided by creative briefs thought up and written down usually by marketing teams and user researchers as parameters to be used by creative directors and their design teams contain much of the talking points.

Creative briefs however aren’t usually followed to the letter by design teams especially when the talking points and parameters set there could make competent and effective design solutions difficult to achieve. Creative people often resort to using briefs instead to help them map potential design solutions inside their heads.

Navigating through the fog

The journey continues despite sometimes having no clear destination yet for the design project. The mind mapping after all, only gives the individual members of the design team the chance to sort out what’s possible and what’s not based from the brief and the ongoing discussions about the brief’s talking points. This is commonly referred to by creative directors as “sailing through the fog.”  As the design team navigates through the fog, it is not unusual for designers to employ the following methods:

  • Go fishing. It is never against the rules for designers to look elsewhere beyond the confines of a studio or among members to the team for design solutions or inspirations towards solutions. It is typical for designers as individuals and pros to have creative circles they pivot around in. Such are potential sources of new ideas, extraordinary approaches and fresh perspectives that might be serviceable to the design problem at the table. In the age of hyperconnectivity and efficient telecommuting, not only files are capable of being shared but ideas too. People are helped immensely by infra like IT and sophisticated telephony like say, a RingCentral virtual PBX, in the communication of ideas via web-based tech. It’s time to make some calls or do some active Googling.
  • Copy, steal or cobble. Original ideas sound like original ideas until people realize they all sound familiar as original ideas done by somebody else way ahead of them. No one bothers to know whom however so it’s perfectly all right to infuse a solution with a copied idea — for as long as you have the ability to innovate on it. By virtue of acknowledgement however, the act of innovating on a copied idea then becomes an idea perfectly stolen (some people sugarcoat the process as “being influenced”). Once this stolen idea is used together with other ideas already within the solution equation, this henceforth becomes a cobbled idea. Most new ideas are usually passed off by teams as “original ideas” until somebody else minds.
  • Get inspired. When creative people bounce off their ideas with each other within teams, sometimes radical new ways of seeing happen. Old ideas become new when seen through new eyes that offer views with a changed perspective.

After these things are navigated through and teams get a clear view of the design challenge, the light bulb moment happens.