For Creative Exercises, It's Quantity Over Quality

How can your team's innovation benefit from an outpouring of ideas?


Sean Monahan, owner of M.i. Productions, helps companies develop their creativity and innovation. Sean tells us that when it comes to brainstorming and creativity exercises, it's all about quantity over quality. 

He emphasizes that those who lead creative sessions must understand and support the evolutionary and iterative process of creativity; the first step is to encourage people to come up with as many ideas as possible.

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We work a lot in sort of the creative consulting capacity as well, so we'll work with a lot of agencies, marketing agencies, advertising agencies, people who have big creative teams and oftentimes they're looking for just new ideas or new ways of doing things.

The biggest thing that we try and focus on when we talk about creativity is getting people to recognize that it's not about quality. It's about quantity. There's an evolutionary aspect to creativity, especially as you're driving towards innovation. That's the idea, that you want to come up with as many ideas as you can, and then stop the creative process and start to get convergent. Start to really focus on what are the best ideas. How can we recombine those ideas? Then maybe you need to get divergent again and recognizing that it might an iterative process as well.

You've never heard of a great author who didn't create a first manuscript of whatever their great work of art that wasn't significantly different than what the final published version was, because you create first. You edit later. The challenge for the leader, then, part of it's in setting the expectation so that people know when they're in creative phase and when they're in editing phase. That's part of it.

The other part of it is getting people on their team okay with the idea of saying the ideas that aren't going to work. You don't have to come up with the final product out of the gate. No one ever invented something on the very first try. It's an iterative process. Edison didn't come up with the idea of light bulb over his head and then grab it and say, "Hey, a light bulb." He spent years and years with other scientists writing letters back and forth, sharing ideas and practices, doing things that didn't work at all until he finally figured out how to make it work.

Sean Monahan

Sean Monahan is a co-owner of M.i. Productions (parent company of the nationally renowned Mission iMPROVable and M.i.’s Westside Comedy Theater) and a Senior Instructor for Business Improvisations who travels the country leading works...

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