Yes-But Voice

I have been “brainstorming” in agencies for a number of years. Every brainstorming session has had a different facilitation style. Most with mixed results, perhaps a rather ironic conclusion given that success begins at 100%. How can you benchmark technique when the result can only be positive?

At some point in my professional life I was introduced to the “Disney Model” of brainstorming. It could have been through an NLP workshop, it could have been a Girl Geeks weekend, but the description stuck because it dawned on me that I had been brainstorming badly.

There is a wonderful description of the Disney Model here:

I’m quoting the above article directly, when I describe the three parts to the model below:

1.Creative Room (The Dreamer) – everything is possible

This is the room were dreams are dreamed and set free, no restrictions, no limits. The focus is on elaborating on ideas provided by other, with a positive mindset, instead of trying to find the negative aspects. The most important thing to remember here is: Be positive – everything is possible. crazy ideas might be unrealistic, but there might be parts of it that can be used, or just be a part of the process for something else.

2. Concrete Room (The Realist) – action-oriented

Here the ideas from the creative room, is being co-ordinated and the ideas created on the board is fitted into categories. The focus is on planning, timing and actions to be made in order to implement and accomplish the idea. The most important thing to remember here is: Don’t give up an idea because of assumptions of resources.

3. Critical Room (The Critic)– the devil’s advocate

Here the ideas from the concrete room are being critically reviewed. This process is safe because it is project not the particular individual that is being criticised. The focus is on being realistic; do we have the resources? Is there organizational barriers and external factors we need to consider in general?

I thought of this today, because we had a brainstorming session at work (my first one at the agency) and I specifically asked the team to focus on getting ALL of our ideas on to the whiteboard and not to get distracted by critique.

It wasn’t easy and I noticed myself starting to say “yes…..but” to a few ideas on the table. Afterall, agency environments are notorious for walking all over young seeds of thought in the pursuit of award-winning thinking. Yet once we were into the swing of it, the whiteboard was full of ideas within the hour and I felt really proud of the whole team. It changed the atmosphere and team energy too. We’d begun in a place of “the client won’t have the budget for…” and “that’s not the X brand” and ended up in… “this could be AMAZING” and “that’s a REALLY COOL idea”.  Whether we can take some of the ideas forward to award winning work – who knows(!), but it was a real lesson to think before you “yes-but”.