- Suspend judgment
- Seek wild ideas
- Build and combine on ideas
- Go for quantity
Let me explain each rule.
- Suspend Judgment – During the initial ideation phase you want to suspend judgment of your ideas. Let them all out – good, bad, and ugly. Some people say there is no such thing as a bad idea. I disagree. Many bad ideas will come out, but that’s a good thing. Let them flow! A poor or mediocre idea might spark a better idea from you or someone else. Don’t worry about the quality of the ideas. There will be a chance to evaluate them later. You are suspending judgment, not stopping it all together.
- Seek Wild Ideas – If you are trying to be creative then it helps to get a bit wild. Can you solve your problem using elephants, hay bales, or a hot air balloon? While the wild ideas might not get implemented, they help the team go in a new direction and lead to new ideas.
- Combine and Build on Ideas – Creativity is often about making connections between two separate things. Combine two or more ideas for a new idea. Build on each other’s ideas too. Don’t keep track of who said each idea. That makes it harder to build and combine ideas. The ideas are owned by the group. While giving credit may seem generous, it can detract from the group feeling like they collectively own the idea. It also means they may not be as comfortable modifying and changing the idea.
- Go for Quantity – In creativity there is a concept of the third third. The first third of ideas you generate are going to be fairly mainstream. For instance, imagine your challenge is, “how might we improve our online presence?” Inevitably, the initial ideas will include things like start a blog or post on social media. While these are valid ideas, they are not necessarily creative. If you keep going, you get past the typical and often the last third of your ideas are some of the best. The trick is that you can’t really get to that third third without going through the typical ideas first. So, keep going. Can you get 100 ideas? How about 500 ideas? Number them as you go and see how many you can get.
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Let me know how the Divergent Thinking/Brainstorming Rules help.
What changed when your team used them?
After you generate a lot of ideas you can then shift into convergent thinking where you evaluate and select the top ideas. I’ll share the rules for those in the next post.