The short answer is NEVER!
As soon as you start to cut corners during brainstorming to save time, the process falls apart. You’ll soon be back to square one, staring at each other across the boardroom table asking if anyone has an idea!
From time to time I have had clients ask me to do a ‘light’ version of the process. Bottom line, there is no ‘light’ version that works — certainly not one that generates the quantity and quality of ideas that are worthy of people’s time.
I can think of two stories I would love to share with you. Neither of them involves ‘breaking the rules’, but each of them involves stopping a brainstorming session!
I was working with a large group in Texas when in the middle of the session a woman stood up and screamed, “I’ve lost my diamond engagement ring!”
I asked everyone to stay very still while we called the hotel concierge staff and asked them to send as many people as they could.
When the hotel staff arrived, we all got down on our hands and knees and crawled around the room looking for the ring… No luck. It wasn’t there.
I asked the hotel staff to accompany the guest so she could retrace every step she had taken from the time she got up that morning.
The rest of us resumed our brainstorming session.
Within an hour, our guest returned wearing her ring! Apparently it had slipped off her finger during the night, and she found it under the bed in her room.
The second story takes place during a brainstorming session at the conference centre in Whistler. As a team was presenting their big ideas, we lost all the power to the building. Everything went pitch black and it stayed that way for about 10 minutes. We waited for a backup generator to kick in… But it never did.
We stopped our session while many guests turned on the flashlight feature on their phones. They also taught other guests how to use it.
The session was with Miracle Ear. We were working on big ideas focusing on communicating with hearing impaired consumers that were in denial.
The power outage provided us with an unexpected stimulus — if this is how it feels to not be able to see, imagine the ‘dark’ world these people are living in who can’t hear! The session took on a life of its own.
One of my favourite quotes is from Katharine Hepburn: ‘If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun’.
I live my life by this rule, except when it comes to brainstorming!
Brainstorming rules and creativity training
For more brainstorming rules and ideas to kick-start creativity, contact the Barefoot Brainstorming team today.