Tame a wild idea

You’re nearing the end of your idea generating phase and people are running with what sounds like a wild idea. Your natural instinct might be to block it and go for safety first. Try these techniques first – because as Alex Osborne, the ‘father’ or brainstorming, once said:

“it’s easier to tame down a wild idea than it is to invigorate a weak one.”

1. Go to the heart of the wild idea.

You need: 30 minutes, pen, download this worksheet

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Draw a big heart and list inside it all the reasons why people love the wild idea. Then take those reasons, one by one, and ask ‘how could we achieve this same quality within our constraints?’ Keep going for lots of reasons, then at the end of the session look back and see which are worth investigating further.

2. Focus on why, not how

If you are ultimately responsible for putting the new idea into action, you’ll already be thinking ‘how am I going to do this?’ But the reality is, your customers/audience don’t care how you’re going to do it so much as why they might want to use it. Research suggests business-folk prefer feasible and profitable ideas while their customers value novelty, rarity and creativity. So take a break, spend time thinking about ‘why is this a good idea?’, then come back to the ‘how are we going to do it?’ question with some fresh energy.

Credit: JENNIFER MUELLER, Managers Reject Ideas Customers Want. Harvard Business Review July-August 2014

NICHOLAS KOHN & STEVEN M. SMITH, Collaborative fixation: Effects of others’ ideas on brainstorming, Applied Cognitive Psychology Volume 25, Issue 3, pages 359–371, May/June 2011.