Ironically, the two bigger accounts I work on at @engauge had brainstorming sessions for 2012 simultaneously this last week. It was hands down the most group brainstorming I've done in that short of a timespan since I've been working. From that I learned a ton about brainstorming. If anyone has been part of a brainstorm trying to come up with solutions from a client they are familiar with one mental roadblock: budget. It's not unique to any client, every project you work on is going to have a budget, some are just larger than others. There's also the fear of having a bad idea. Should that little flicker of an idea escape your mouth? Or should you just keep that little thought spasm to yourself?

Budget

The reality of a budget can hinder one's creative processes more than anything. You know you have a small budget to work with and therefore you keep your ideas limited. You're afraid to throw out the big, grand ideas because pursestrings will shoot those down - so why bother even letting your mind wander to those elaborate ideas? It seems like a waste of time.

I've found - sometimes the hard way - that it pays to think of and throw out anything you can. Thinking big - even outside of the budget - can help the process flow much better. After all, you're just in a brainstorming meeting and probably not an official client presentation or pitch. The team knows what resources you have to work with. Often times, throwing those big ideas out to the group will either help spark an idea from someone else. Other times, those big ideas are able to be scaled down effectively in order to fit those resource restrictions.

Fear of a Bad Idea

I'm not going to say that there's no such thing as a bad idea. There is. But it's just a matter if you follow through with those ideas or not. I've learned that I'll have concept ideas that may be way out in left field or not on target at all. Then again...maybe that idea is what we need. The only way I'll know whether or not its a good idea is to throw it out to the group. Sure, it may be seen as not the best course of action. Sure it may be a bad idea.

But it helps do one thing: it keeps the conversation going.

The trick is overcoming the fear of a bad idea. It's not an excuse to not have a brain-to-mouth filter but its overcoming the fear of having a thought spasm shot down. So what? It's a brainstorm. If you're working with a great team, they won't lash out or make fun of you for your random brainstorming thought. You'll learn nothing from keeping everything to yourself.

This blog is the same thing. Sometimes I blog about things I'm not necessarily the expert in. However, through the comments, its how I learn more. You don't know how good a thought could be unless you throw it out there and see what happens.

What about you all? What other brainstorming challenges do you face? How do you overcome them?