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Aunty Van’s wacko filter for wunderkinder

Ever been struck by a great idea, but kept it quiet, just in case it sounds more wacko than wonder-child? After 10 years around the traps at Ogilvy PR and 14 in the PR business, I’ll share a secret: wonder-child is overrated.

But for those that err on the side of better safe than sorry, let me give you a quick filter for the big idea that you can implement between brain and mouth.

Last week I attended a MasterClass at ci2011 with famous physician, inventor and author of 82 books, Dr Edward de Bono. He took us through some concepts from his books ‘Think! Before It’s Too Late’ and ‘Six Thinking Hats’, but for me the most compelling part was the last 30 minutes of each session when he answered audience questions and entered into general discourse on the role of creativity within an organisation.

 Creativity often gets a bad rap. Corporate clients might sponsor the arts, but get a whiff of it in the boardroom and it takes a brave leader to grab it by the horns and see how they can apply it to their business.

 A key differentiator de Bono applies is creativity versus ‘crazy-tivity’.

Creativity is creating something new. According to de Bono, all valuable creative ideas will be logical in hindsight and have obvious benefits. In fact, when you are using creativity to create something new for an organisation, it’s often referred to as innovation.

Crazy-tivity has its place – in the realms of fantasy and entertainment – but it’s not the valuable business tool PR peeps need to employ in their bag of tricks.

 So getting back to this checklist between brain and mouth.

 This is not a de Bono list – it’s Aunty Van’s interpretation of de Bono – so take or leave it depending on where you think I sit on the scale of wacko to wunderkind.

 Before you make your suggestion, answer the following questions:

  1. With hindsight, is your idea logical?
  2. Does your idea have the potential to deliver obvious benefits?
  3. If so, list two-three benefits that would support your idea.
  4. What’s your gut saying? Is it a winner? Intuition doesn’t give you creative ideas, but it does help you judge the ideas you come up with. Trust yourself when you think you’re on a winner.

 Now I’m not saying you need to do this with every single idea. In some brainstorming environments it’s perfectly OK to switch the dial to wacko – in fact de Bono’s ‘Random Word’ tools might be considered in this category.

 But if you have time for the filter – run your idea through it – and it might help you articulate your thinking a little better.

 Dr de Bono has a number of ‘deliberate thinking techniques’ that I’m just starting to learn about. He’s number one on my reading list right now, so if you want to borrow a copy, go to www.bookdepository.co.uk .

He signed my copies so you can all PO! (BTW, that last comment was a de Bono in-joke … read his latest work and you’ll get it.)

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