A view from Dino Burbidge

Five creative ways to turn chaos into a dream project

Everyone looks at challenges differently but here are some tried-and-tested approaches that may help.

One of the things that always intrigues me is how everyone approaches problems differently. It’s these processes that turn a chaotic project into a dream to work on. I have collected a few over the years and I’d love to share five of my favourites with you. 

Brainstorming: the Lego Serious Play methodology

Bear with me here – it sounds a bit Nathan Barley. You sit in a room with a big problem to solve (often a real humdinger of a consumer problem) and you express (and feel) your way through solutions by building Lego representations of the problem – and talking about it. Where a lot of brainstorming techniques focus on a high quantity of low-quality ideas, with this one you can’t help but use that extra block, rejig that flower to be more meaningful or make up extra stories. I won’t go into detail but if you’ve never heard of it: Google it, send someone from your company to be a facilitator and you won’t regret it.

Defining a big project: the MOIST process

OK. Again, bear with me here. Muscle past the name. Not exactly sure where this came from but it allows anyone (especially those who struggle with the bigger picture) to take a big project and break it into manageable pieces. It’s especially good for smaller agencies where big, departmental processes are less prevalent. 

Here’s what MOIST stands for. M is for mission – what’s the big thing we’re aiming to achieve? O is for objectives – what things have to have happened to know we have succeeded? I is for insight – step back: what do we know about this problem, brand, audience, competitors etc? S is for strategy – knowing the M, O and I, what strategy should we employ? And, finally, T is for tactics – what are we actually going to do? Phew. That big problem doesn’t seem so hairy now, right?

Competitions: the hourglass model

Most competitions exist as meek promotions in a sea of similar social posts – "Tell us why you’re cool and win a choc ice!" stuff. Arguably, the ideal "shape" for a competition is an hourglass. You want a wide base – everyone knows about it. This is relatively easy to throw media money at. The "prize" is the pinch in the middle of the hourglass that most get wrong. Make the prize something that, even if you don’t win, you’re interested in seeing what happened next. And if you get those two steps right, the wide audience at the base have new content to share and create your wide top of the hourglass shape.

Now consider a competition that goes out on a brand’s Facebook page and promises a trip to the Bahamas. Who cares who wins it? Your hourglass shape suddenly looks more like the poop emoji – and for good reason.

Viral: the seven secret BuzzFeed rules

BuzzFeed knows a thing or two about making things shareable and it is more than happy to share its secret sauce. The more of these rules about content you can tick, the better the chance you have.

  • News, trending topics – "Woah, have you seen this?"
  • Encapsulates your identity – "OMG, this is so me!"
  • Emotion – "Dude, I feel the same too."
  • Conversation – "So is it blue or gold?"
  • Aspirational – "I’m so doing that!" or "I stand for that!"
  • Relatable – "Hey, @friend, this is so you!"
  • Global – "If we all come together, we can change this!"

Content strategy: Google’s ‘hero, hub, help’ model

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve drawn this diagram. Think of it as an atom with a big blob in the middle and two outer rings getting further away. Your hero content is in the middle. This could be your TV ad, your microsite or whatever. The "hubs" that surround it are separate communities or interest groups that may be interested in your hero content – but indirectly. You should make a second tier of content for each of these communities and, if they find it relevant, they should find their way to your hero content. Job done. And, finally, there’s the distant "help" ring. This scoops up anyone looking for vaguely related help from Google: "What is a fun meal on a budget?" or "What is the name of the frog Muppet?" In short, buy search terms to scoop up those searches and subtly move them towards the hub content and ideally on to the hero content.

So there you go. Five methods, processes and models that have helped me turn chaos to structure on many an occasion. If you have one that works for you, I’d love to hear about it. And I wasn’t joking – Google that Lego thing right now. Seriously.

Dino Burbidge is director of innovation and technology at WCRS.