The only thing worse than having no ideas is having too many ideas.  I’m sure you have been to many a brainstorming session and left with a thousand standard, interesting and downright crazy ideas.  Surely somewhere in the volume must be some pretty cool ideas, but how many of those ideas will turn into something real?

This is a pretty common dilemma, how to harness the great thinking without destroying the elements which may be truly innovative.  We often see groups either failing to progress ideas or killing them too soon, simply because they don’t have the skills (and mindset) to move from brainstorming to design thinking.



You are the kind of group that doesn’t have the heart to start testing and critiquing your ideas


You will end up with a huge volume of undeveloped ideas


Ask yourself what would good look like and from this identify the parameters that a good idea should meet.  You will then have the ability to filter the ideas to think about further.  A filter like this could help reduce your ideas by a significant percentage and make testing and critiquing a whole lot easier.



You are the kind of group that looks at the results of your brainstorm and critiques each idea within an inch of its life.


By the end of the process you will have no ideas that you are still attached to (and the group is feeling quite bruised)


Rather than selecting the ideas that don’t meet your criteria (because they will be dead forever), select the ideas that do meet your criteria.  The process is much more positive and yet you are still being pragmatic enough that you will end up with a shortlist of pretty cool ideas.


The key for moving from the idea stage with enough options that you will be able to solve your problems, identify opportunities and be really innovative is in neither loving or hating the ideas you have and by seriously utilizing your pragmatic gene.


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Written by Lisa Smith

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Lisa is a professional thinker dedicated to helping people unlock their innate creativity and to empower them to think differently – for themselves. She is passionate about building innovative cultures and about harnessing and engaging talent to create thinking communities. Lisa holds an MBA, specialising in organisational change and innovation, which forms the nucleus of her work. She relishes opportunities to share the Minds at Work thinking strategies with government bodies, socially responsible corporate, educators, community groups and farmers, helping them to turn their big ideas into realities.