SHAKE UP YOUR THINKING
Shooglebox from IMP is a research and creativity tool designed to help individuals and teams harness their curiosity and come up with better ideas.
At its simplest it’s a place to squirrel away all the interesting things you find – whether it’s useful material for specific projects or general knowledge and inspiration you come across day to day.
It turns notes, images, web links, social media posts, videos, audio clips and other files into visual cards and lets you review and explore them in ways that help you look for themes, unexpected connections and fresh insights.
It’s a tool for research, for learning and for encouraging curiosity and deeper thinking – going beyond the first answer, the quick assumption, the obvious Google search.
Shooglebox has been designed with the creative process in mind. Yes, there is such a thing as a process for coming up with ideas.
It was most succinctly described by a leading American advertising executive called James Webb Young back in 1939 in a very short little book: A Technique for Producing Ideas.
Successful writers, designers, scientists and engineers have all described a similar process.
It’s based on the principle that an idea is just a new combination of things that already exist – and that new ideas spring from an ability to see relationships and make unexpected connections.
The first stage in the process is gathering lots of raw material. You don’t sit around waiting for inspiration to strike. You go out and systematically hunt for facts, insights and all sorts of material relating to the challenge at hand. “Creative" people stick at this task much longer than most – they go beyond superficial searching; they challenge their initial assumptions and dig deeper and further.
But the real key to creativity lies in developing and being open to a broad range of knowledge and diverse interests and experiences. A new idea invariably comes when you make a connection between something in your specific research and something in a completely unrelated field.
As Steve Jobs famously said: “Creativity is just connecting things.” The wider your knowledge and experiences, the more dots you have to connect.
When you’re using Shooglebox you’ll get much more out of it if you squirrel away all sorts of random bits of inspiration you come across – as well as the things you’re gathering for a specific project or task. You can create boxes of card for individual projects – but keep one box for all the interesting quotes, snippets from books or articles, inspirational images and other general things you come across and think “That might come in useful one day.” It’s something writers and thinkers used to call commonplacing – a technique Shakespeare would have learned at school.
The second stage in the creative process is digesting and exploring the material you’ve gathered from all sorts of different angles, looking for insights and seeking relationships.
Shooglebox gives you lots of ways to explore the things you’ve collected – zooming in and out, sifting, sorting and shuffling your cards. Sometimes, just shaking up the cards in front of you makes something leap out and help you see a relationship you didn’t see before.
As you do all this, you’ll start asking new questions that lead you back to do more of your raw material gathering. You’ll also start coming up with initial ideas … but don’t mistake these for the bigger ideas to come.
That tends to happen in the next stage of the process – when you stop concentrating on your challenge and put it completely out of your mind.
James Webb Young compares it to the way Sherlock Holmes would put aside all the scrapbooks of information he’d gathered on a case and drag Watson off to a concert. Ideas come when you stop straining for them and have spent time resting and relaxing after the search. It’s why people often have their best ideas in the shower or when half awake. The idea seems to come out of nowhere. But it's actually the result of having done the first two stages properly.
It sounds simple – but it works. We built Shooglebox for ourselves at IMP as we knew the process worked but were struggling to find some of the tools to make it easier to apply as a team. And to help us filter the huge number of insights we were gathering from social media and structure them to spot patterns and connections.
Now we’ve made it available as a product in its own right – for individuals and teams. You can sign up for a free individual account and get started with Shooglebox today.
If you want to set up a team account to collaborate with others and generate more and better ideas get in touch with us now.