A Silly Idea Might Be The One That Saves You

I’ve been in too many creative meetings where someone tossed out a wacky idea and got slammed for it.  “Bob, what a stupid idea.  That will never work.”  “It’s too expensive.”  “That’s nuts – what are you thinking?”  You’ve heard the lines before.  The problem is, when you slam someone’s idea – especially early in the process, here’s what happens:

That person shuts down.  He or she won’t be so willing to share another idea.

Why is that a problem?  Because their next idea could be the one that’s gold.  It could be the one that saves the project.  Plus, in many cases, what seemed like a crazy idea at first, is the perfect solution later on.

In a brainstorming session, get ALL the ideas on the table.  Encourage, motivate, and inspire your people.  Don’t criticize, intimidate, or embarrass anyone.  Because making fun of a crazy idea now could easily shut down the future idea that could change everything.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Josh

    Slamming someones idea can crush hi/her confidence. Right on.

  • Anonymous

    “You’re crazy!”
    “Maybe I am.  So what?”
    — Stephen Sondheim’s ASSASSINS

  • Anthony Peterson

    The classic line ‘that’s too expensive’ is rarely answered with ‘compared to what?’. Go one further, and we should probably ask ‘and how would we objectively measure that?’ Phil, I think there a book in this. I can think of the title now, ‘The questions never asked – how to revolutionize creative meetings’

    • Ooohh, that’s good Anthony.  Start writing that book.  Love the idea…

  • It’s why a brainstorming session is just that. Nurture and get the silly ideas out there! I’ve seen them give birth to brilliant ideas.

  • Don Schaffer

    Creative individuals, as a general rule, take strong ownership of their ideas, so putting them down in a group meeting can absolutely crush their motivation in a future project.

    Looking at this from the reverse side of your post, Phil, I’ve had to move past negativity to my input in planning meetings through a few different paths: 1) Say what I’m thinking, anyway, in spite of the crazy looks, silence in the room, or possible statement of why it can’t be done, 2) Interact with other creatives to foster strong relationships and to develop more creativity, 3) and produce my own work (video) unhindered by the imposed corporate/ministry leash.

    Doing these things has strengthened the respect of peers for my views, since I generally follow strong reasoning and have presented some great concepts; it’s built my reputation and impact on the local film community; and it has also allowed me to spread my wings as an artist.

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