5 Ways AI Can Boost Creativity and Innovation in Brainstorming Sessions

Guest post by Chris Griffiths and Caragh Medlicott, authors of The Creative Thinking Handbook. Chris is also a keynote speaker, and founder of the AI-powered brainstorming app, ayoa.com.

With artificial intelligence increasingly dominating headlines, the usual debates surrounding man vs machine have begun to surface. Really, this is to be expected. So many of our cultural narratives – from film to fiction – centre the idea of powerful robots surpassing human ability and thus becoming a threat to all of mankind. Of course, we don’t actually need to worry about killer robots, but the recent developments in AI and machine learning have reignited age-old concerns about the strength of human ingenuity.  

AI Can Boost Creativity and Innovation in Brainstorming Sessions

The tide of automation has been on the radar for most professionals for some time now. What’s changed more recently is our understanding of which jobs might be impacted by these advancements. While we once believed the knowledge economy and other creative industries would be safe from interference from AI, recent developments make that look less and less likely. From the race to replace search engines with chatbots to a new frontier of AI-produced art, there is no way to avoid these new developments. 

The good news, however, is that this doesn’t have to be an “either/or” situation. Human creativity need not be supplanted by the arrival of increasingly ubiquitous AI tools. On the contrary, when used correctly they can actually help to facilitate more originality. So, without further ado, here are five ways AI will actually boost human creativity and innovation via brainstorming sessions. 

Time to think

Time is one of creativity’s greatest opponents. How many of us have dreamed of pursuing some great creative venture – whether finally writing that book or developing an innovative business idea – only to ultimately give up the dream due to lack of time. In the professional sphere, too, operations and admin often consume our hours and leave little space for real, creative work. But this is where AI changes things. 

While it may seem an indirect benefit, AI’s ability to act as a personal assistant to each and every one of us means we’ll have more time to get together and get creative. No more headaches over finding time which works for everyone, no more emails back and forth. Ultimately, the capacity for AI to take over the mechanical aspects of our daily work will mean there’s much more freedom to spend time brainstorming and collaborating in the first place. 

The people for the job

For a long time recruitment has been a sifting job. From personal qualities to past work experience, recruiters must comb through multiple applications and CVs in order to shortlist the candidates most suitable for a particular role. While this process is familiar to us in a recruitment context, few of us think about who we should be inviting to our brainstorming sessions. Jeff Bezos has a rule that he won’t attend any meeting too big to be comfortably fed by two pizzas – and for good reason, too. 

Picking the right people for a brainstorming session will have a huge impact on the quality of ideas which come out of it. After all, a bunch of developers might not have the best ideas for a new marketing campaign (and vice versa). That’s why the same AI which allows recruiters to sift through applicants with efficiency and impartiality, will also allow for the immediate selection of the best people for truly fruitful brainstorming sessions. Thus, the collaboration will be optimised through the presence of the best and most relevant people for each specific project.

More dots to join

Steve Jobs once said that creativity is all about having dots to join. After all, at its core, creativity is the process of fusing existing bits of knowledge to create something new. The jury is still out on whether AI is truly capable of replicating the complex neural networks and abstract emotional undertones which allow humans to identify truly novel ideas, but what it can do is produce a large quantity of information in a short amount of time. 

One of the most important stages of the brainstorming process is the time we spend fuelling up on inspiration. In fact, it’s good practice to ask attendees to come armed with their own ideas before a brainstorming session in order to eliminate groupthink. With AI, this approach can be taken one step further, as each brainstorm attendee can use AI’s generative power to unlock depths of inspiration both prior to and during a session. Ultimately, while AI might not be able to design, construct and polish the most original idea itself, it can certainly provide you with the best raw materials to reach this point more quickly.

Optimised analysis, focussed creativity 

We often think of analysis and creativity as opposite ends of the spectrum. While analysis involves rational thought and cold detachment, creativity is all about open mindedness and abstract thinking. Or, at least, that’s the stereotype. In actuality, analysis is incredibly beneficial to creativity – especially when working with others! Human error can loom large in brainstorming sessions, especially with thinking traps such as selective thinking and groupthink commonplace in such situations. But AI can help. 

AI is able to sift through huge amounts of data very quickly, it can also translate complicated statistics into helpful insights. Its ability to feedback sound analysis means less time is wasted arguing about interpretation, so more time can be spent ideating in the right areas. This is a classic example of how the objectivity of AI can actually prove to be liberating for creativity. Naturally, working from a foundation of solid analysis provides brainstorming sessions with the perfect jumping off point for focussed creative efforts.

Iteration and implementation 

Once upon a time, deciding which ideas to take forward after a brainstorming session seemed like high stakes business. What if the reality didn’t live up to the imagined? What if the time invested didn’t equal the ultimate pay off? But with AI, these kinds of questions start to look very different indeed. Where once mock ups and drafts required time, energy, and resources, such things can now be seamlessly produced by AI in minutes. This means brainstorming sessions can be spent exploring a wider range of ideas, and more risks can be entertained, without concern for wasted resources. 

That’s not to mention that AI can be used to execute projects and campaigns much more quickly, with a relay of alternative ideas and proposals ready to be switched out at a moment’s notice. In other words, it is AI’s speed with both idea production and implementation which allows brainstorming teams to take ideas to new areas they’ve never had the scope to explore before.

To conclude…

Far from an enemy of the creative mind, AI is like fuel in the rocket of human ingenuity, removing obstacles and super powering inspiration in order to make our brainstorming sessions more productive than ever before.

Written by Chris Griffiths and Caragh Medlicott, authors of The Creative Thinking Handbook. Chris is also a keynote speaker, and founder of the AI-powered brainstorming app, ayoa.com.

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