Creative Sessions: Faucet and Funnel Thinking


The creative process is difficult.  It just is.

Since art is an outward expression of inner belief and experience, some people will love your creative style, and some will hate it.  There will always be critics.  There will always be someone to tell you what you could’ve done better.

There are many different ways to deal with this pressure, and we want to focus in on two of them (and how to use them in your creative process).

Some people respond to this criticism by judging their own creative thoughts before someone else does. They constantly evaluate and second guess their creative impulses to an extreme, which impedes their ability to get anything done.

Other people respond by simply ignoring the criticism and allowing their creativity to run wild.  They speak off the top of their heads, and they constantly generate ideas. But they also tend to run off track and get lost in a maze of unrelated rabbit trails. The lack of focus can make their work feel disjointed and schizophrenic.

The problem is that neither of these people will deliver the best work to their client.

For the first group, perfectly good ideas get filtered out.  We will always be our own toughest critics, and if we continue to say “that’s stupid” or “that will never work”, our brain will eventually give up on creativity.

For the second group, it’s tough to make sure the best idea is delivered to the client without any “filtering” or “perfecting” process. Also, it’s typical to get stuck in the “generation” stage, never getting to the “decision-and-moving-forward” phase.

Faucets and Funnels

These two types of people need each other.  Each has a natural gift in their way of thinking, and they need learn to brainstorm together.  Not only that, but each person should be able to operate in both modes of thinking – even if one is more dominant than the other.

The next time you have a brainstorm session, try to implement the next two concepts.


The first part of a brainstorm session should be primarily faucet thinking:  Letting ideas flow.  No idea is a dumb idea, so allow your brain to go where it will and see what happens.

TIP:  Keep calm and don’t judge.  There’s nothing that kills a creative session faster than consistent criticism.

When enough ideas have been generated, you can move to funnel thinking:  Paring down the vast list of ideas into the ones that are feasible and worthwhile.

TIP:  Try not to add a bunch of new ideas at this point.  No need to confuse the issue.

These methods allow the free flow of thought while maintaining the integrity of the project.

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” ~ Scott Adams

Are you stuck in either type of block – too many ideas or not enough?  Shoot us an email!