Right now we need a big infusion of creativity in our business and marketing. What got us here won’t get us where we need to go.
Let’s get real. The coronavirus pandemic has collapsed the economy. And nobody has ready-made plans in their back pocket that will pull us out of this thing.
If we ever needed outside-the-box thinking, we need it now.
Years ago I belonged to a brainstorming group called The Brain Exchange. We gathered as a group and one person at a time would stand up and share a business challenge they were facing. And the rest of the group would lob ideas their way.
There were a few simple rules. One, the person who shared their challenge couldn’t argue with the ideas they received. No, “Yeah, but I tried that already,” comments.
And for those sharing ideas, it was encouraged to be as outrageous as possible. No ideas were bad ideas.
If someone asked, “How do I go about getting a business license?” the idea, “I know the department in city hall where you get one,” was just as valid as, “Don’t even bother getting a license until someone knocks on your door!”
What we discovered pretty soon is that the silly, crazy, outrageous ideas, the ideas that were not reasonable were ultimately the most useful.
Why? It wasn’t because those crazy ideas were something they would actually follow, it was because the crazy ideas stimulated creativity and helped them come up with new ideas that were actually more useful and powerful.
Wacky ideas get people laughing. And when you’re laughing, you’re thinking and feeling differently. Your, “it won’t work, that’s not reasonable, let’s be sensible,” mind turns off and new possibilities emerge that were impossible to see before.
But very few do this because we don’t want to appear foolish.
You’ve heard of court jesters. A jester, court jester, or fool, was historically an entertainer during the medieval and Renaissance eras who was a member of the household of a nobleman or a monarch employed to entertain him and his guests.*
But court jesters were more than that. Wise noblemen also knew the pitfalls of always being serious and reasonable. The role of a court jester was to also infuse serious conversations with laughter so that the court would start to think more creatively in order to resolve their serious challenges.
I mean, they had the black death, famines, and wars with neighboring kingdoms to deal with, after all. Fun stuff.
So, here’s what I recommend:
Get together with a cadre of your peers. Meet by Zoom and brainstorm ideas for moving your businesses forward during this challenging time. But make sure to start with lots of crazy, off-the-wall ideas. The more ridiculous the better.
I promise that when you are laughing your head off, you’ll actually start to come up with some of the best, most creative and practical ideas you ever imagined.
I have no idea what you’ll come up with. It might be a new service that is desperately needed right now. It may be a novel way of delivering that service. It could be an innovative way of pricing your services.
But whatever you come up with, it will definitely be outside-the-box and address the challenges you are facing in a way that is compelling and engaging. And you’ll be excited about implementing it.
I can’t promise that every idea you come up with will be brilliant or a breakthrough. But I do promise that if you don’t tap into your creative thinking (by willing to be foolish), most of your ideas will be complete duds.
Dare to be foolish.