Think Fast. Think Aloud.

Business Week is providing eight rules for brainstorms. Here’s one that makes sense:

Brainstorming is just one of many techniques that make a company creative. It is of little value if it’s not combined with observing consumers, talking to experts, or building prototype products and experiences that provide an outlet for the ideas generated. I’ve worked with “creative” companies that are great at coming up with ideas, but never implement them. I once studied a team that spent a year brainstorming and arguing about a simple product without producing a single prototype, even though a good engineer could have built one in an hour. The project was finally killed when a competitor came out with a similar product.

Since the agency biz relies so heavily on brainstorms, I’m confident we can generate some additions to Business Week’s list. For instance: Do not attempt to moderate a brainstorm session without a copious supply of M&M’s.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. I think that sometimes brainstorming can be detrimental to process of creativity when compared to thinking on ones own. Hearing other people’s ideas or criticisms may prevent you from coming up with a brilliant and original idea.

  2. If you live in fear of coming up with an unoriginal idea, stay tuned:
    -Live Doppler radar
    -Viper Storm Tracker
    -Watchtower cam
    -Local Sirens
    -EBN messages
    -redirect the jets to the next hub
    c’mon– just raise both hands, look at that thing we call the star of our solar system and laugh. You’ll here a whisper, I am sure.

  3. (organizing a brainstorm to decipher nancy’s cryptic post…)

  4. high Jive,
    Cryptic? What is there to decipher? Gads, it’s harder to follow the poetry we had to read in high school.
    You want me to decipher? It’s easy.
    1. We get storms blowing through.
    2. As time goes on our detection methods have become excellent.
    3. So much so that it’s getting over detected once or twice. Better safe than sorry. Well, I don’t know about that.
    So, it is with the ideation process. Lots of people doing detection. “that’s not good,” “that’s not original,” “that’s not…”
    I say just go outside, look at that big ball of incandescent gas. Something will come to you. It’s how I do my yoga color exercise.
    This summer I just hopped in the car and stuck my hands and camera out the sunroof going 80 plus mph. Then I actually made an original video out of it. I thought it was original, at least, and it was mine. (what was cryptic… was the guy on that small motorcycle I followed up to Crater Lake. Man could he drive that thing into the bright sunshine. Turned off at Medford. He took his jacket off right in the middle of the ride, right in front of me!!!! WHAT’S THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?) OH, and who was that cute old guy in the black car like mine that I was weaving in and out of traffic on the I-5 toward Canada. I would have beat you, Mr Whitehair Wonder, if I had performance tires/wheels!
    Now I’ll go back to listening to the radio. John Maher is telling me to wait for the world to change. I guess if i do my yoga! That me and all my friends (what’s that? like, um. . . i got like my dog left as a friend, and he’s technically not even mine anymore. Oh my car!) are all misunderstood.
    …waiting. One day my generation is gonna change
    Now… coldplay–something that’s never been done!
    (it’s not original but it is still a good message. And John is going strong at the moment. All the more powerful to his wether system.)
    wink, High Jive, and smile. Not everything is cryptic. Some things are just plain fun. Did I confuse you even more with endless chatter?

  5. 1) Keep the account group out of the room. (Did I say that? KIDDING!)
    2) Along the lines of what adbrat mentioned, take time ahead of time to gather your thoughts and come up with stuff. But be prepared to let the cold front from Canada move into the brainstorm session and blow it in new directions. (That was for Nancy. Just trying to work in a wind ref.)
    3) No negative comments. Nothing is too crazy.
    4) Tunes. Food. Comfortable chairs/couch.

  6. mtlb,
    the account people definitely have key roles in brainstorms:
    1. supply food and drinks.
    2. write out the list of ideas; and after the brainstorm, a junior ae will compile everything into a word doc.
    3. provide pre-meeting research and relevant materials.
    4. keep their fucking mouths shut, as they often prone to breaking your “no negative comments. nothing is to crazy.” point.

  7. mtlb,
    that was for me?
    I just drove home with a full 180 degree rainbow above me, blackness behind me, sun glaring in front of me. I’m vain enough to believe that some higher power read my response and was smiling so colorful just for me. No wind was required.