Creativity 1: Groupthink

On a number of occasions, usually when I’ve been at work, I’ve been part of a group asked to think up a new slogan or tagline.

I’m never exactly sure what people mean when they talk about creativity, but I’ve never known these mindmelding exercises result in it.

First, someone comes up with a slogan, let’s say “Tony Ballantyne Blogs Better”. Then someone else comes up with another, let’s say “Tony Ballantyne Tells it Like it Is!”

So there we have it, two slogans, perhaps not the best ever, but at least they work. Then the group will take sides and argue for their favourite slogan, and it will look as if things are going nowhere…

And then the same thing always happens. Someone will look up with an inspired expression and, in excited tones, will announce they have solved the problem.

“I’ve got it!” they will say, “Why don’t we put the two things together? Why don’t we say Tony Ballantyne Blogs Better to Tell it Like it Is!

There will be a pause and then nearly everyone will nod and declare what a good idea it is. The only two people who won’t agree will be the ones who came up with the original slogans.

Combining the two slogans is not a good idea.

Firstly, the slogan is now too long.

Secondly, it now contains two ideas – one too many.

Now, I quite agree that creativity can sometimes arise through the process of combining two or more seemingly disparate ideas. But I would also argue that joining together two sentences without any thought for what they mean may result in something new, but that’s not the same as being creative.

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