Creative Workshops

Top Ten Lists

Common thoughts will become clear very quickly.

With a single piece of paper, fold it in half, then half again and finally half a third time. Now across the top, you write the topic. If using 1 sheet for 6 people, use the same topic OR use a sheet per person and write 6 topics (this is how to do this for a group). Each person writes the first 10 words that come to mind about the topic. It’s a simple and fast way to gain insight into common thoughts around a topic. When you finish a list it’s a good idea to fold it away so it’s not referenced.

Time: 1 hour + preparation time, each list of 10 should take about 3 minutes to do

TOPIC: Movies


Each team members writes their ideas & sticks them to the wall. As they go up everybody can see, ask questions, explain the idea – this can trigger additional ideas. This process should continue until ideas are exhausted. Then a change of focus (disruption) before returning to the board of ideas and first adding any new ideas, then the ideas are sorted and grouped.

The ideas then need to be ranked, the moderator needs to manage the criteria for this and may do this step alone. The ideas that rise to the top are then able to progress/be used for further steps.

Generally, these exercises start slowly but after a few minutes, they are going gangbusters. You will find that after the initial outpouring of ideas they slow to a trickle. This can take 15-30mins after that the moderator needs to bring in new ways of looking at the problem, suggest additional information to think about, probe and ask questions to keep the ideas rising to the surface. The whole exercise should take around 1 hour.

PREP: Moderator, Creative brief (direction documentation- ideally provided beforehand), Background documentation (ideally provided beforehand if relevant), Post-It notes, Sharpies, a blank wall, chairs (optional)

Time: 1 hour + preparation time, each list of 10 should take about 3 minutes to do

OUTPUT: Expect to take away a whole swag of ideas, the key to using this bulk of ideas it to use established criteria to sieve the ideas to find the ones that will resonate with your target, be it, customers, clients the board of directors.

Time: 1 hour + preparation time, each list of 10 should take about 3 minutes to do

Time: 1 hour + preparation time, each list of 10 should take about 3 minutes to do

Visual Exploration

Start by gathering a wide range of magazines that can be cutup, ripped apart and generally destroyed.

Hand out a few magazines to each team member and ask them over the next 5-10 minutes to look through and select images that reflect the brand image or project direction. Then have them stick the images on a wall or collect them and you stick them up, making sure that you mix them up.

Now as a group look through the images and discuss what makes this image on brand and relevant, then lock them in by moving them to one side, or if they are not so clear keep them in the middle and if it is decided that they are not on brand then move them to the other side.

An alternative to this method is to ask the team members to bring with them images from magazines that they have already collected to the meeting. This way they have already thought about the contents of the images and relevance, in this case ask them to stick each image to the board one at a time. With each image they should describe to the group the relevance / relationship or meaning that is the connection to the brand. The group can discuss images on the board. Certian items can be moved further away if they are not deemed relevant.

It is possible to introduce the idea of color to this exercise, and have the team members consider color as a brand attribute. This requires large pieces of color and also it’s good to have examples of the colors used on web sites or in real life.

What you need:

Moderator, table and chairs, magazines, an empty wall, Post-It Notes, pens.

How long it takes: 1 hour + preparation time

This can take 30-60 minutes depending on the group size, it’s best to have a group of between 6 – 10 as it can become very slow with more, and less will not provide enough range of thought.

Results / Takeaway expectations:

A visual direction board, that can be referred to for direction of design, ideas, content or writing tone. It can be a guiding board that forms part of a project WAR room.

Further Steps:

After a break, then return and ask the group to make comments about the various images and write them on Post-It Notes and stick them up on the images this can extend a simple exercise further and help to understand why people have chosen certain images.


Prior to the meeting ask everyone to collect a range of items that they feel are inspirational. These can be images, web sites, objects, books, magazines, music, videos, films, youtube, viral videos, clothing, cars, electronics, interfaces etc.

These should all be relevant to the brand or marketing campaign in question.

With all these objects in the same room, allow people to walk around and look at everything for the first 10 minutes then ask everyone to sit down and one by one go through the items and explain how /why these items are inspirational to the person and how they relate to the project.

Cross analyze the objects and see how they may or may not match with the project /business objectives /brand. Record the themes and ideas that emerge.

What you need:

Moderator, assistant, white board, chairs, tables

How long it takes: 1-2 hours + preparation time

Depending on the size of the group it can take from 1 to 2 hours to do this. Again it is dependent on the number of items that are brought to the session. It’s a good idea to place limits on the number of items brought, suggest a range for example 7-20 items. You may decide to ask people to select 3 items to talk about initially and then after everyone has had a turn allow them 1 additional item to select and talk about. This also forces them to select the best of their collection.

Results / Takeaway expectations:

This will provide many people within the group a sense of excitement and ownership that can extend into the project. It is suggested that you photograph the objects of inspiration and send to all members of the team. This technique is more of an exercise designed to get the team ready, excited and thinking. There is very limited takeaway in terms of documented results.

You can capture the words used to describe the items and look for key patterns within that, thus giving you some hard data to wrap in the Inspiration Wrapper

Spider Webs

Starting with a moderator in front of a white board and the team members seated around him/her, the team calls out ideas and they are written onto the board, with the aim of filling the board. The moderator has to capture all the ideas and write them up as they are voiced – so there’s no ranking or associations.

Then the moderator together with the group looks at the ideas and draws relationships between them, these relationships are then drawn onto the board to show the overlapping nature of relationships and associations.

The moderator is in control of the time spent during the task and can provide direction to assist the conversation direction. This can be a great exercise to bring a team together on a project. Suggested for the early phases of a project.

What you need:

Moderator, Creative brief or Base Topics, White board, markers, chairs.

How long it takes: 1hour + preparation time

This exercise is designed to allow a high degree of interaction between team members to help them gain a common understanding of the different viewpoints and how they all must work together to a common goal. The whole exercise should take around a 1 hour.

Results / Takeaway expectations:

The group will now have a shared experience that will help as the project continues, it’s a great reference point to refer back to during the project. There should be some clear relationships that were captured on the whiteboard that will be valuable in understanding the topics explored.

Further steps: Hooping

Time: 1 hour + preparation time, each list of 10 should take about 3 minutes to do