Thanks to my business partner Chris, who basically insisted I read it, I’ve just finished ‘A Book About Innocent’, a frank and very readable account of how three guys started (and very nearly finished) Innocent Drinks, going from a van selling 24 smoothies at a jazz festival to a business worth well over $150 million.

Their brand is renowned for its original approach and new ways of doing things. In the book they talk about creativity and reference Michael Wolff who set up a famous branding agency in the 1960’s and had the idea of ‘Four Rooms’ which you must visit to cultivate good ideas. I think we all try to do this stuff but this serves as a great checklist:

1. The ‘room of great work’

Expose yourself to the finest ideas by going to art galleries, design museums and shows. Read magazines, books and consume any and every art form. Be inspired by them but do not do your work in this ‘room’ as you will find yourself dominated by its greatness.

2. The ‘room of understanding’

Whatever your industry, make sure you fully understand how it works – the technologies and processes behind it, where the parts of it come from and where they’re going. Do not do your thinking in this ‘room’ as you will feel constrained by its rules.

3. The ‘room of precedent’

Study all that has gone before in the sector that you operate within. Do this to learn what has already been done, what was successful and what failed. Again, don’t do your work in this room or else you’ll just end up plagiarising.

4. The ‘room of creativity’ 

The final ‘room’ is where you should do your work. It is dark and the only person in that room is you. You should go into that room naked. And it is here that you should dtart to think of ideas. 

So, if you’re a creative go buy that Art Pass, check out shows of musicians you love, subscribe to some pretty magazines here, here and here. Subscribe to blogs in your industry and use Google Reader and Twitter to keep track of them and key people in that sector. And engage with those people, join the conversations online and become a voice yourself through your own blog and social media. Most important of all – make sure you actually just go create, and have fun doing it 🙂