An Astrological Guide to Brainstorming
Some companies seem to have grown two heads or perhaps several heads. These heads talk to each other, sometimes ignore each other, sometimes bite each other. But hopefully they listen to each other and get the rest of corporate body working together.
We’re going to look at three heads in this piece: the creatives, the operationals and the evaluators. They are all important, but it is how they work together that is the key.
The creatives deal with new product and design concepts, corporate image and branding. They work with imagination, a sense of style and appropriateness to current trends. They are the ones who imagine the project.
The operationals deal with putting the project into practice. It may be to decide any logistical or project management issues that would need to be resolved such as time scale and availability of staff.
The evaluators have to decide if the project is legal, if it complies with regulations and manufacturing standards or if a particular advertising claim is valid and can be substantiated. Also, if it fits in with the overall direction of the company. And, crucially, if the financial returns justify the investment.
These three heads represent three different phases of the project:
The Dream phase
This is where the creatives imagine. It’s also known as blue-sky thinking. Anything is possible. All ideas are welcome regardless of any practical considerations or constraints.
The Realistic phase
This is where operationals check the practicality of the project. Is a particular idea realistic? Is it doable?
The Critical phase
This is where the evaluators look at any constraints or potential problems with the project and decide if it is worth doing.
In astrological terms:
The Dream phase
works in the realms of intuition and imagination. It is essentially a non-rational process. The planetary energies that inform this process are the Moon and Neptune.
works at the level of the unconscious. It is the vital ingredient in marketing in that it has an intuitive appreciation of need. And not only individual need but collective need. The moon understands the demographics and the generations, (baby boomers, Gen X, millennials etc) as if they were tribes, clans or families. It grasps things directly and knows without having to go through any step-by-step analysis. It is often an unconscious process that grows out of an instinctive awareness of the market. To subject this process to the spotlight of solar consciousness is to disrupt it.
Some paths can only be seen in moonlight.
Neptune is the planet of the imagination. It is what totalitarian regimes try to suppress. If the people can imagine a different life, then they may be dissatisfied with their present circumstances, and who knows what that dissatisfaction may lead to… (See the movie Alphaville by Jean-Luc Godard.)
Imagine a better world. This is how the dreaming phase begins. Imagination is subversive (Look at the paintings of William Blake). Look at how state control kills creativity.
Imagine a better product or service. This means dissolving the attention from the existing product and going beyond current reality to other possibilities. This is a sensitive process and it can’t work if it is challenged too early.
The Realistic phase
This phase has a number of dimensions. The most important are the practical and the social. It doesn’t judge the idea but looks at the ‘how’ of implementing it. The planetary energy that deals with the practical aspect is Mars. The social dynamic that energises the proposal is Jupiter.
is the planet of action and doing. It is concerned with production processes and putting ideas into practice. Mars takes the baton from the Moon and Neptune and asks itself, “So how could we do that? What resources would we need? How long would it take to get a prototype up and running?”
Jupiter generates the required enthusiasm for the project. It takes the idea, and the real possibility and from these first steps looks at goals and targets and long-term potential from a strategic point of view. It’s the ‘can-do’ attitude that sees the wider potential of the project.
The Critical phase
The decisions at the critical phase don’t only come from the top based on criteria of strategy and direction. They are also based on financial and legal criteria (e.g. intellectual property) as well as matters of compliance, for example that any marketing claims are in accordance with local regulations.
Making sure that the basis of the project is absolutely solid before any green light is given and any money is spent. Saturn has to ensure that the rules are being followed, that risks are minimised, that a convincing financial argument has been made.
The critical phase should be the final step in the process. If, however, Saturn’s hard-headed realism is allowed to disrupt the Dreaming phase, it will act as a dead hand, strangling the project at birth. It will also have the effect of devaluing and demotivating the creatives in the organisation who will soon be looking for other jobs where their imaginative skills are appreciated.
But if this process is seen as a relay where the creatives pass their ideas on to the operationals who in turn pass the proposals on to be evaluated, then you have a system that makes better use of the available skills in an organisation and has a greater chance of developing successful projects.