I had lunch with a friend this week. He asked me a question that reminded me that Ideasicle continues to be, and may always be, a study in human nature:

“Do you think your Ideasicle Experts are better at being creative because it’s virtual?”

Believe it or not, that question had never occurred to me. I mean, I knew the Experts in my Expert Sourcing model were massively creative already, but I hadn’t considered whether Ideasicle’s method of ideation (virtual) might actually enhance their already massive creative skills.

Well, I decided to pose the question directly to my Experts. You might be surprised by their reaction. I was. Here are some actual responses, grouped by theme:

Responses regarding virtual’s virtualness:

“It gives the concepting process a fluidity and flexibility that traditional meeting-based forms don’t offer. In fact, the traditional forms not only don’t offer that kind of collaboration, they tend to stunt it.” Expert, Manifesto

“I think we relish the discussion and ideation with zero inhibitions because most of us don’t see each other face to face and, so, have no worries about boundaries.” – Expert, Gravity

“The virtual thing totally liberates. There’s little judgment and there is mutual respect to let ideas out and see if they go somewhere.  You filter but not as much as if you are in a room with someone.” – Expert, The Kernal

Responses regarding virtual’s effect on creative methods:

“I wouldn’t say we’re more creative because we’re virtual, we’re just allowed to be creative in an environment and at a time that’s conducive to our own individual creative process.” – Expert, The Wanderer

“The great thing about Ideasicle is that you can carry the info around in your head and when inspiration strikes, you can share, collaborate, comment right then and there.” – Expert, Manifesto

“I’m most creative on the toilet, so this kinda suits my work style.” – Expert, Street

Responses regarding the experience of virtual:

“It’s a rare setting. Ideas are all our conversation threads are about. Ideas and momentum and building off one another. It’s pure ideation and in there is where the secret sauce is for Ideasicle.” – Expert, The Wanderer

“There’s something freeing about it and I love the soup of POV’s we’re cooking on each assignment.” – Expert, Twang

“The way I see it, Will handles all the bullshit parts of this business that I hate and that frankly I suck at.  I like thinking and writing about ideas, and I like daydreaming. That’s what I know how to do.” – Expert, The Light

“It’s like an idea video game for me. It’s refreshing.” – Expert, The Sage

It never occurred to me that what I was building might actually be a superior “way” for creativity to happen. I figured if I got the most brilliant people I’ve ever worked with together, albeit virtually, that would be enough. And, to be utterly honest, I was a little concerned that the removal of personal contact, if anything, would diminish their creativity a little, not enhance it.

But something else is clearly happening here. Something wonderfully surprising to me.
Oddly enough, the very same day my friend and I had that lunch, I was sent a ScienceDaily article that all but confirms, scientifically, the power of virtual ideation.

ScienceDaily aside, I can say with empirical confidence the following virtues of virtual ideation are actually true:

ONE. The removal of physical cues (meetings) seems to liberate my Experts from intimidation, stress, and other social barriers that are present with in-person meetings.

TWO. The removal of what I’ll call “appointment creativity” seems to give my Experts more control over their own creative methods. They no longer are forced to create RIGHT NOW OR ELSE! They create whenever inspiration hits them, even if that’s on the toilet.

THREE. And the fact the experience fun is more than just icing on the idea cake. Play is an essential ingredient to creativity. It puts you in the mood, lightens you up, and reduces idea-killing stress. I have to believe that these incredible brains are even brainier when they’re having fun.

And, so, the great human-nature experiment called Ideasicle rolls on. Have you had experiences with virtual ideation? What has your experience been? Positive? Negative? Am I drinking my own Kool-Aid here? Please share.