Got asked the other day to contribute to something the IPA is producing – a second go at the kind of flash cards they produced in 2008 for developing ‘fast strategies’.

The intent is to help overcome creative blockages – those moments when you can’t see the wood for the trees, strategy-wise.

I find the biggest battle in these situations is not with a deadline, or with a lack of information, or with it being a Wednesday, or whatever.

The main challenge is normally yourself, so most of the ideas below are mechanisms to help jolt you out of whatever path you’re on, and signal a different way.

Would love to hear if people have any other techniques…

1. Be single-minded

Write down the one thing it is you want people to do.

Write down the biggest barrier to that happening.

Write down the task you would set for communications, which would help you overcome the barrier.

List the ways you could achieve that task.

2. The three I’s

Ideation: grab an idea, any of the ideas you have had. Or just get some written down.

Iteration: thought experiment the idea by applying it to different communications contexts – in-store, advertising, events, online.

Implication: evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of where you’ve ended up

Do this a few times and you’ll find the common ground occupied by the good stuff. In short, start by starting, and see what happens

3. Accept that not all ideas are good ideas.

If you’ve ever tried to intentionally come up with truly bad ideas, you’ll know how hard it is. But it gets you thinking about the problem in a new and lateral way – and buried somewhere within each ‘bad’ idea is the kernel of a potential good one. Try listing all the conventions you can think of in the category – product, communications, customers, everything. Then come up with ideas that would demolish each in turn.

4. Brand Fission

Take the constituent elements of a brand: the physical product, the brand properties, the brand tone, emotional resonances. Deconstruct the brand into its component parts, grouped under these four ‘elemental’ headings. Pick any two components at random, from separate groups, and then smash them together to see what results you get.

5. Stretch out and wait

You need room for your mind to breathe. Go to an art gallery, or any place where space, ideas, creativity and different perspectives collide to create an experience you’ve never had before. Because that’s the place you want to be. Don’t worry, your thinking will follow with you, and it’ll collide with what you find there. You’ll make connections you’d never have thought of from your desk. Just make sure you have something to record your ideas, otherwise they might not come back with you.

6. Invoke a higher power

Second-guessing your own thinking will only send you in ever decreasing circles. Create the room, and the mechanisms, for random inputs to act as stimulus – and give yourself over to them. Match what you have so far with what you’ve been presented with – what lies in the spaces in between?

7. Go talk to someone

About your work. Or theirs. It doesn’t really matter. Interaction is the thing. Especially at this point.

Wonderful brilliance may be gained for human judgement by getting to know men. We are all huddled, and concentrated in ourselves, and our vision is reduced to the length of our nose.” Yes, more Montaigne.