Friday, September 02, 2005

[How to: TV] In the Wild

Although I’ve read lots about brainstorming, I haven’t actually done much of it in the wild. It’s definitely a skill that needs practice.

Brainstorming’s awesome for coming up with riffs on a basic situation, for wild ideas, and tangents. With a little bit of direction, it’s also good for generating lots of possible solutions to specific areas, issues, problems.

I’ve also noticed two things – one personal, one systemic – that are worth watching out for …

The personal is that it’s easy for me to get distracted by my opinion of where the discussion *should* be going. That’s not useful – it means I’m out of sync with others (so my ideas don’t feel right). Better to stay in the moment and be mindful. Focus on what people are saying.

The point: Listen.

The systemic – and I’ll need to participate in a lot more brainstorms to confirm this is actually a real phenomenon – is that I’ve noticed a tendency to lock down an implied ‘best version’ of the idea early on. This seems to come naturally out of the group reinforcing ideas we like – and therefore encouraging further contributions that riff off of that.

So, contributions are adopted and elaborated on because they’re congruent with an emerging paradigm. This happens non-verbally and it’s based on enthusiasm …

… and it’s not a big deal. Take last night for instance. When we started, I felt like what we were brainstorming was too close to an existing TV series. Well, … we still got awesome stuff out of it.

And even if the group locks down a particular approach, after you’ve followed it through you can always bring the idea back. This time though, you can push the already explored approach to one side and spitball different ways to break into a new paradigm.

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