Surely, you’ve heard the saying, “There are no bad ideas in a brainstorm.” It’s quaint, but like many of you, I’ve been in plenty of brainstorms that were nothing but bad ideas.
The problem is we have conflated ideas with mere thoughts. A thought is the first thing that pops into your head. It’s a reaction. An idea on the other hand is more than just a thought. Having a thought is a reflex, like a sneeze. It’s easy to have thoughts. Ideas on the other hand have multiple dimensions.
The key have an effective brainstorm is laying down some simple principles. The “no bad ideas” was designed to encourage participation. However, it has a secondary effect. Too many bad ideas can actually inhibit those with good ideas from coming forward too.
It’s like improv. Initially, you need everyone to come out of their shell and be willing to take chances an be vulnerable. Taken too far, then people just start screaming randomly and blurting out unfiltered nonsense. Again, great to get started, bad to get anything done.
Since no one else wanted to do it, I decided it was time to explain the difference between a good idea and a bad idea. For starters ideas are meant to be implemented. The final execution is ultimately how it’ll be judged. A brainstorm that generates a lot of impossible to implement ideas is a failed brainstorm.
A good idea has multiple dimensions; thought, actions, questions, and outcome.
This is the foundation of the TAQO Methodology of brainstorming.
This is the initial concept of notion that we often conflate with an idea. A thought is just a thought. It’s like a reflex. The thought is the first thing that comes to mind. When people say there are no bad ideas in a brainstorm, they should really be saying “thoughts.” Most thoughts just come naturally.
These are the next steps one needs to think about to make a thought into an idea, and an idea into something that can be implemented. People familiar with the David Allen book, “Getting Things Done”, might call this this the next action step.
These are the issues that need to be addressed in order to know whether an idea actually can or should be implemented. Questions are an important dimension to any thought because, they force everyone to think it through. Questions also improve the other dimensions.
This is how you’d describe the actual execution of the idea in some tangible form. In some cases, you might just describe what solved looks like, and in others it might be an actual physical implementation of something.