One of the most common conflicts in creative teams is picking the initial idea to be developed, and get everyone behind that single idea.
Sometimes this is a smooth process. If one of the ideas is already a combination of ideas from various people on your team it usually doesn’t take long to get everyone enthusiastic about it. It becomes more difficult when individuals won’t accept an alternative to their own solution. This can become a real problem when the reasons why the idea doesn’t get accepted remain unclear.
The following video is bound to look familiar to most of you working in the creative industry. Though situated in the creative team VS client relation, it just as easily applies to a creative team working on a project and deciding which idea to develop:
The video above illustrates various hidden obstacles towards accepting an idea perfectly. The presumptions of a person and their ideas get in the way of getting an idea accepted, or even getting the revisions to get the idea accepted:
- The older ‘man with the money’ questions the experience of the young presenters. Their enthusiasm is seen as childish and unrealistic (over-optimistic).
- The art director is seen as somewhat pretentious and unpractical, only pushing his own artistic ideas instead of those of the company.
- The reviewing committee is seen as hopelessly conservative, fearful or more concerned with their personal agenda.
Rational arguments and irrational assumptions
In the situation above the idea is no longer reviewed on rational arguments. The acceptance of the offered marketing concepts depends almost entirely on the unspoken presumptions about the individuals in the team, and the consequences that would have for the quality of their ideas.
This becomes a problem when no one expresses their real concerns, and instead both parties try to please each other and make up fallacies. Or at the very least produce arguments that are not at the heart of their issue with the ideas offered. The result is both parties have no chance of getting closer to each other, and the next series of concepts is likely to be rejected for the same hidden reasons.
To avoid these situations whenever your team has trouble getting behind a single idea, it’s essential to remove the irrational part from the discussion by exposing these hidden obstacles towards accepting an idea.
The Negative Braindump
When to use the Negative Braindump: Use this technique when it’s unclear why an idea doesn’t get accepted by the team. Without full understanding by the participants the concept will lack consistency and clarity in its execution.
Participants, Duration & Preparation: The number of participants can be any number of team members. The brainstorm itself is fast, no more than 3 minutes per idea. In preparation the brief objectives have to be clear, and each idea has to be presented briefly.
- The idea becomes the topic of your brainstorm. If there is more than one idea being considered, make separate brainstorms for each idea.
- All participants are asked to write down a list 25 reasons why this idea could fail to meet the briefing objective within 3 minutes.
- Gather up the lists and review them with the team.
How it works
By asking for such a high number of reasons, and such a limited amount of time, the participants will start writing down the first ideas that come to mind. Even if he starts to write down the fallacies, with the high amount of demanded reasons the participant will feel compelled to start writing down the hidden grievances as time passes.
Furthermore, when asking the participants to write down the arguments we remove the element of spoken conversation. And with that the risk of having your opinions rejected right away, nuanced by words, working relations or peer pressure. This makes this brainstorm an open invitation to really express your thoughts.
Last, the lists with possible issues create a clear and un-nuanced view interpretation of the brief by the participant. This is an opportunity to see if there are misunderstandings in the original brief that didn’t get expressed before.
In summary, the Negative Brainstorm attempts to expose hidden objections to a problem, turn them into rational arguments and evaluate them openly. Remember that just because the objections can be hidden, it doesn’t make them any less valid than the expressed opinions.