Creativity for Music Entrepreneurs Part III: Have Fun with Ideation

Now comes the fun part: ideation! This is the stage of the creativity problem solving process where you generate a lot of wild, crazy ideas in order to come up with an innovative solution to the problem you are solving.

When we last left our music entrepreneurs in my Innovation and Collaboration Class at the Yale School of Music, the 3 project groups had defined their challenges in the clarify stage of creative problem solving.

Here is how they framed the problems to solve:

  1. How to create innovative musical experiences that engage young and young-at-heart professionals who typically do not attend concerts?
  2. How might we use music and the arts to empower young people from underserved communities to find and pursue an artistic talent in order to find the inspiration to achieve and excel?
  3. How might we enhance music education in an accessible format so that all musicians can overcome perfectionism and collaborate and learn from great performers about how to practice effectively?

Now it’s time to come up with some new ideas on how to solve the problem! This is next stage of the creativity solving problem process known as Ideation.

Ideation is what many people associate with creativity: generating a lot of new, wild, crazy ideas.

The goal of Ideation is to generate as many ideas as possible that might be the solution to the problem you are solving. Then, you select the most promising tentative solution to the challenge. Ideation is often a messy, fun, unpredictable process that takes many twists and turns. It’s hard to capture the spirit of the process on paper but there are many interesting lessons that I would like to share with you.

Here is how our Ideation class session played out.

Many people think of brainstorming as the way to generate new and creative ideas.

But there are many other Ideation techniques out there!  To explore the range of ideation possibilities, each of our 3 project groups used a different technique to come up with their tentative project solution.

  1. Classic Brainstorming

Our gritty urban concert group chose to use classic brainstorming as their technique.

That process involves following the rules of divergent thinking to come up with as many ideas as possible.

This means that you:

  1. Defer judgment and not edit yourself or criticize other people’s ideas while you are tossing out possibilities;
  2. Strive for quantity to come up with a lot of ideas;
  3. Seek wild and unusual ideas to push beyond the obvious so that your tentative solution will be genuinely novel; and
  4. Build on ideas and make connections in order to expand your possibilities.

Brainstorming is fun! There is a lot of energy involved in coming up with new and unusual ideas. The challenge is not to get lost!  This group initially spent a lot of time focusing on the venue for their performance and found that they ran out of ideas.

In order to change things up and look at the problem from a different perspective, the group resorted to another technique—analogous attributes, the technique used by the second group-by looking at why Happy Hour is a success.  This process helped the group move beyond venue to come up with the food and drink component, costs, sponsorship and different ways of involving the audience in an interactive experience.

Tentative Solution:

A concert in a gritty, urban setting where local sponsors provide food and drink for the audience to enjoy during the performances and there will be a host of ways that the audience can participate and interact (I won’t share these because I don’t want to spoil the surprise!).

  1. Analogous Attributes

The community music group explored the technique of Analogous Attributes to come up with its tentative solution. This technique involves looking to an unrelated but analogous situation, identifying its characteristics, examining the value and the drawback of each attribute, selecting the most promising attribute and adapting the attribute to your situation.

Their analogous situation was Youth Sports where:

  • Parents are involved in transportation, snacks, coaching and supporting their children;
  • Community business and organizations sponsor the teams;
  • Playing sports teaches teamwork and cooperation;
  • It creates a community with events like tailgating and awards dinners;
  • It teaches children discipline;
  • It is a process that leads to positive results and can provide a vision of growth and working hard towards achieving success.

This led the group to come up with the following idea for their project solution:

Tentative Solution:

Teaching the students about the power of music to advance in their lives, providing mentoring to the students and encouraging their creative work, providing an information session for the parents about the benefits of a music education, and ending the project with a community concert and dinner, with sponsors from the local community.

  1. Worst of the Worst

The on-line streaming group had a great time with a technique called the “Worst of the Worst”:   consider the WORST possible solution for the problem and then flip the worst characteristics to come up with the BEST characteristics! This process often gets the buy-in of skeptics who do not buy into Ideation because they view the process as unrealistic. That said, the on-line streaming group—a group of 5 upbeat, positive and creative individuals-had a great time imaging the worst ways to create an on-line streaming platform and they loved the process.

Some of the WORST ideas for their platform were:

  • Slow, slow, slow internet connection
  • Poor quality videos
  • A website that is hard to navigate
  • Ugly design
  • A live stream that breaks down and doesn’t work
  • Competitive musicians who try to outdo each other with their streams
  • Lots of negative commentary
  • A spammy site that is full of pop-ups
  • Expensive for musicians to use

The group flipped these ideas to come up with their tentative solution:

A beautiful, easy-to-use on-line platform with high-quality videos of master performers sharing their practice sessions that would generate revenue for the performers and also create a supportive and positive on-line community that will become the go-to social media platform for musicians.

Ideation often results in big, juicy tentative solutions. Now it’s time to work on refining these solutions so that we can actually implement the ideas. Stay tuned for the next post on how our students developed their ideas!