To Brainstorm Better, Laugh Along the Way
In a world replete with corporations vaunting creativity as a core component of their business DNA, brainstorming has become serious business. Post-It notes abound and multiply around office building interiors, and painted walls are labelled archaic as dry-erase walls replace them more and more.
As a creative professional, it's easy to fall into the habit of stone-faced ideation sessions...but while taking one's job seriously is always a good thing, the essence of creativity can become lost along the way. One unspoken-of creativity catalyst seems to suffer more than the rest: humor.
Numerous scientific studies commend levity's influence on creativity. In an article entitled “The Power of Humor in Ideation and Creativity,” Moses Ma asserts that in one brainstorming study, comedians and designers worked in teams under a specific design prompt, and the comedians “generated 20 percent more ideas than professional product designers did, and the comedians generated ideas that were also rated 25 percent more creative.”
Humor was shown to work so well, in part, because laughter releases tension,“which can lead to perceptual flexibility—a required component of creativity” (Ma). Levity has proven to be an effective tool for strengthening human connection and controlling group behavior, but whether ideating with others or by oneself, a non-serious mood seems to rid the mind of any filters that could inhibit ideation outputs.
Of all the types of divergent thinking outputs, humor seems to suit novel idea combinations particularly well. An essay by BM Kudrowitz, entitled, Haha and aha!: Creativity, idea generation, improvisational humor, and product design,asserts that “wit, being spontaneous humor production, is strongly related to creativity as both involve making non-obvious connections between seemingly unrelated things,” since “something is funny as a result of a pairing of ideas or situations that are divergent from [what may be] expected.”
So what does this mean for you? It means that whenever you're working to generate a slew of potential ideas to choose from, always remember to smile.
Not only that, but be sure to laugh along the way. Believe in all of the ideas that come to you...even the ludicrous ones, because the more ideas you come up with, the more you have to choose from prior to implementation. If an idea makes you laugh, write it down! Don't immediately dismiss it as inappropriate. At this stage, there's no such thing.
It makes the experience more amusing, too. Try it the next time you ideate. Don't brainstorm frantically...brainstorm facetiously.