We all say “There are no bad ideas in brainstorming,” but if you’ve ever sat through a brainstorming session, you know there are terrible ideas and ideas that are treated like terrible ideas. Problem is, those aren’t always the same. The problem with saying “Nah” to even one idea, is that the person who was about to build off that “bad” idea will shut up. Then people will become less likely to throw random ideas out there, knowing the ideas have the potential of being deemed wrong.
That quiet girl who rarely speaks up, but when she does says something brilliant? She’s not going to talk at all unless every idea is welcomed with open arms. There’s no risk in yelling out a bad idea if everything is being accepted.
And I don’t want you to just accept and say yes to every idea, I want you to second it. I don’t care how shitty the idea is, somebody, anybody, has to add to it. Build off it in some way before you move on.
Scenario: Network trying to come up with a new children’s cartoon character.
1: What about Poopy Pants?
(Okay, bad idea, but don’t give up, Second it!)
2: Hmmm, uh, yeah, I like Pants. What about Dr. Pants?
(Sigh, this group is terrible, you could give up on this whole character now, the first guy felt heard and seconded, so he’ll feel okay sharing his terrible ideas in the future. Or keep going.)
3: Yeah, okay, Dr. Boxpants, M.D.
4: Oooh, I like the shape of the pants. Dr. Robert Boxpants.
5: Nice. More colloquial though, Bob Boxpants.
6: How ‘bout Spongebob Squarepants?!
The whole table starts slow clapping.
(Based on a true story.)
(I mean, not a true true story, but you get the point.)
(This group was later told that Spongebob Squarepants was in fact already a popular kids show. Back to the drawing board.)