Creativity for Music Entrepreneurs Part IV: 4 Steps to Develop and Improve Your Idea

What happens when you have come up with lots of big, juicy ideas for your innovative solution? Is that enough to create a workable solution to your problem?

Not so fast!

When we last left the music entrepreneurs in my Innovation and Collaboration class at the Yale School of Music, they had gone through the stage of the creativity problem solving process known as Ideation.

That’s where you generate lots of big ideas and come up with a tentative solution to your problem.

Next Stage in the Creativity Process:  Develop

But to insure that your creative ideas will stick, you need to develop and refine them. That’s the stage of the creativity process known as Develop, is where you refine the tentative solution in order to strengthen it and make it more likely that you can actually implement a breakthrough solution.

Whereas IDEATE involves divergent thinking, DEVELOP is more about converging on the best solution in order to refine your idea and come up with a workable solution.

The 4-step POINT Creativity Technique

One help creativity technique in the Develop stage is POINT, a 4-step process that works as follows:

P: Pluses, where you list the benefits and the positive aspects of your idea;

O: Opportunities, where you envision the future possibilities if you bring your idea into fruition;

I: Issues, where you list the problems, challenges and weaknesses of your idea; and

NT: New Thinking, where you brainstorm how to overcome the problems and the weaknesses highlighted in the Issue step and then prioritize to come up with the best ideas.

Let’s see how one of our groups–the concert group who is looking to develop new audiences for classical music–used the 4-step POINT process to strengthen their concert idea.

The concert group decided to present a concert in a gritty, urban setting where audiences would enjoy food and drink provided by local sponsors and get involved in the concert through a variety of activities.


  1. Makes music more available to audience
  2. Allows new music to be more accessible.
  3. Creates more performance opportunities.
  4. Brings the audience closer to the artists.
  5. Engages the audience
  6. Educates the audience
  7. More fun for the audience and the performers.


Next, the group considered the Opportunities that their new concert experience might give rise to, using the formulation “It might”:

  1. It might… open opportunities to use new potential venues
  2. It might… create a new genre of performance in music and art.
  3. It might… create new spaces for people to enjoy music and spend time.
  4. It might… promote a new lifestyle and reform in society.
  5. It might… create the norm in concert music.


The group then listed the Issues that might prevent the concert from succeeding. Since this analysis is solution-focused, each issue began with the formulation “How to…”

  1. How to… generate an audience for the concert.
  2. How to… acquire revenue.
  3. How to… keep the momentum going and keep it fresh.
  4. How to… find the right space.
  5. How to… grow the classical music audience (which in fact is the same as the first issue)

New Thinking

Finally, the group brainstormed how to solve these challenges and come up with some new ideas for refining their concert, prioritized as follows:

  1. Generating and Finding Our Audience

Ask similar venues/concert series (such as Boston’s MFA or the British Art Center) how they attract new audience members

Go to where these new audience members exist and promote our event at bars, happy hours and coffee shops

Have friends from other schools invite people who would not typically come to a classical music event.

Reach out to new audiences through media, blogs and forums and see who bites.

  1. Revenue

If the venue is free, generating revenue is less of an issue. However, if there is a fee for the venue, we would have to sell tickets in order to break even or make a profit.

We would then negotiate with vendors to provide services for free or for a small fee by offering them sponsorship visibility.

  1. Momentum/Keeping It Fresh

Have each concert be different while at the same time maintaining our mission to keep the concert casual and audience inclusive and engaging:

Ideas include a different theme, different setting, different activities, different performers and different composers.

This set the group up to refine their project in order to make sure that the concert would work!

Next time:

How our students collected inputs from audience members to further develop and refine their project ideas!