How to be more creative | Hacking Creativity with Nik Venios

How to be more creative | Hacking Creativity with Nik Venios

Lui interviews Nik about how we can all be more creative in life & work.

Transcript

Lui:

Hey guys. Welcome to episode one. Today we have creative genius, Nik Venios, founder of THEIA, or The Ideas Agency. Nik has offered creative solutions to some of the world’s largest brands like Pepsi, Rolls Royce and BMW. As well as bringing new innovation startups to market, he is focused on unlocking new market opportunities through innovation for ambitious brands.

Lui:

Having trained and worked in some of the UKs most prestigious marketing and creative agencies, and even launching his own inventions, Nik believes creativity is a formula, and we can learn to think creatively with just a few simple tools.

Lui:

So in terms of yourself, Nik, can you just tell us a little bit more about who you are and what you do day to day?

Nik Venios:

My background’s in product design, marketing, and innovation. I’m lucky enough to work with some of the biggest brands in the world, helping them unlock new market opportunities, using various ideation techniques, and either I generate ideas for them and solutions to their challenges, or I work with their teams to help them unlock new ideas.

Lui:

Excellent. In terms of creative process, is creativity something that you think that you can hack?

Nik Venios:

I do believe that there are processes that you can put in place to ensure that you get as good a result as you possibly can from your team. So for example, Tesla, Google, and Pixar don’t simply throw their teams in a room and pray that they come up with a smash hit movie or product. What they do is run them through certain processes to make sure that they can achieve as close to a smash hit X, Y, and Z as they possibly can.

Lui:

In terms of having these different ideas, in your opinion, what would you say is the best way of having a great idea?

Nik Venios:

I think the best ideas… Well, there are two things. There are brilliant ideas and then there are ideas which aren’t bad ideas. So everyone says, there’s no such thing as a bad idea. And that is true. However, there are such things as weak ideas, and weak ideas are a result of poorly-defined problems. I think in order to get a brilliant idea, you need to be able to define the problem that you’re answering.

Nik Venios:

So that’s the key to generating ideas with impact or incredible ideas. It always starts with the problem and you should spend the most amount of your time on the problem rather than the ideas, because once you’ve got the problem, the idea is the easy part.

Lui:

I would consider myself to be someone who’s relatively creative, but I know there’s lots of other people who just think they’re not creative whatsoever. Do you think creativity is something that’s innate or can anyone be a creative?

Nik Venios:

Well, us as a species, you can find art example from 60,000 years ago in caves. Not across the world, they’re in specific regions of the world. Then we only really learned to feed ourselves through agriculture 10,000 years ago. So we are, as a species, innately creative, and I think inherently we are.

Nik Venios:

Do I think you can hack it? I definitely think you can use process to inspire and deliver ideas. So for example, David Bowie used to use a process whereby he would get cuttings from magazines and he’d get newspaper articles and he’d get poems and he’d cut them all up, throw them to the floor, and then force the associations between the different texts to create songs. He sold 160 million albums doing that. And so if creative luminaries like Bowie used process, then I think everyone can use process to develop solutions.

Nik Venios:

And back to your point on, are we creative or is everyone creative? Another example is NASA, for example. NASA, when they were looking for engineers, they wanted not just the engineers who are brilliant. They wanted exceptional engineers who could literally think in another dimension compared to everyone else. And so they got this guy called George Land to devise a test. His test was around how many ways could you improve a fork?

Nik Venios:

They took a massive control group of engineers and they then asked them this question. And it was 35-year-olds and only 2% passed that test at genius level. And then George Land took the test a step further and took it to 16-year-olds. And at 16, 15% of children or adults passed this test. They were qualified as genius. And he went on and he went to five-year-olds and when he got to five-year-olds and he did the fork test with them, 98% of five-year-olds passed the fork test at genius levels.

Nik Venios:

So we are born creative because we haven’t been restricted by education to think in a linear fashion, we think horizontally. And I think that’s the key really, is thinking and determining problems and being able to think laterally as opposed to vertically.

Lui:

That’s really interesting. I think one of the questions I was actually going to ask was around education and university in particular. Is there one thing during your university experience maybe that you wish you’d been taught or something that you found out later on in your professional career that you didn’t get to at university?

Nik Venios:

Yeah, I definitely think, I wish I’d been taught how to find problems and how to get to questions that then generate ideas. Because I think in education, we’re taught what does five plus five equal? So you get a singular answer. And what they don’t teach you is what two numbers add up to 10? So you can suddenly get many answers by just reframing the question. I think the reframing of the question is something that’s massively missed in education.

Lui:

So is there any particular method or different ways that maybe you could show us in relation to that reframing of the question that maybe we could do now?

Nik Venios:

Yeah, definitely. And I think once I show it to you, you can use it in life or you can use it in your business or whatever it is to start generating products and services and marketing strategies that really resonate with your audience. So yeah, I can definitely do that. Yeah.

Nik Venios:

So this is one of the exercises that we use to generate ideas and I’m going to get you to work through it so you can see the power of it. Let’s pick a business. We’re a florist.

Lui:

Okay, yep.

Nik Venios:

So we’re going to write down a typical challenge that all businesses face. So this is a typical challenge that loads of businesses face, but it’s internally-focused. It’s focused on us making more money. So the next thing to do is write out assumptions. So this is things that people who perhaps don’t know about our floristry business would assume about us. Right. Cool.

Nik Venios:

So now what we’re going to do, we’re going to write the opposite. So what would the opposite of something that’s inconvenient be?

Lui:

So convenient?

Nik Venios:

Yeah. So we could say super it’s convenient or fits our lifestyle. So now what you want to do is you want to use these flipped assumptions to generate our challenge. The thing that we’re going to generate ideas to.

Nik Venios:

So from our initially internally-focused statement, we’ve got an externally-focused statement that we can start generating some solutions to. So let’s go ahead and generate some.

Nik Venios:

We started off with our internal challenge, which is focused on us and not the customer. Then we wrote out things we find frustrating with the business or what someone who didn’t know about our business would assume about it. Then we flipped those and wrote the opposite of them. And then what we did was use these to create a new challenge statement, which is externally-focused and focused on delivering value and convenience for our customers. And just as a consequence of that, we generated these in about two minutes. So you can see the power of it.

Lui:

Massively, massively.

Lui:

So I’ve just got a couple more questions for you, Nik. One of the things I wanted to ask was what is your version of success?

Nik Venios:

I think contentment in terms of my business certainly. I’m not happy, I feel incredibly lucky to do what I do. And as a consequence, I am happy. I absolutely love waking up on a Monday and getting to work. It’s not even work, I just play. I think being content is really important and being grateful for the things that you’re able to do is massively important. So, yeah.

Lui:

One of the last questions I just wanted to ask you, Nik, was just with regard to, there’s a lot of people out there watching no doubt who are very passionate creatives, and I’ve suffered from this before, sometimes you might feel a little bit lost in your creative process. What might you say to someone that’s going through that stage?

Nik Venios:

Okay. So the first thing is passion. I think in our younger lives, we’re taught to follow our passions, but it’s really difficult if you don’t really know what that is. Consequently, that can go into adulthood and you suddenly are in a place where you don’t really know what you want to do. Lots of people tell me, “Nik, I don’t know what I want to do.” And they’re 40, 50.

Nik Venios:

The key to it is realizing and understanding what you are interested in. And then just go and follow one of those strands. It can be anything. It could be trainers, or it could be basketball, or it could be making films or animations, or it could be… Like your interest in the Simpsons, for example, that can lead you onto something. As a consequence of that, you’re being fulfilled because you’re investigating something that you’re interested in.

Nik Venios:

So that’s what I would say around passion. In terms of being lost creatively, one of the things Einstein used to do was go and work on something completely different to the thing he was working on because your subconscious will work on it anyway. So if you are completely lost and you have got that creative block, just go and do something else. And it can be something completely alien or completely foreign to the thing that you’re working on. So it could be painting or going for a walk or whatever it is, because the idea will come to you. You just need time for your mind process it really.

Lui:

Yeah. I just want to say a massive thank you for coming along this afternoon, Nik. It’s been a real pleasure and really interesting and insightful to learn more about the sort of creative process and hear more about yourself. Where can people find out a little bit more?

Nik Venios:

Yeah. If they go to theideasagency.com, they can find out about our business there and what we do. And if they’d like to get in contact, then there’s an email form they can fill out.

It would be our pleasure to discuss this in more detail, and provide concept generation free of chargeĀ 

Tags:
No Comments

Post A Comment