A colleague of mine at Bader Rutter once told me that he and his family have a “shelf” in their garage where everyone, kids included, must leave the day’s emotional baggage before going inside the house.
I love this idea. And it’s very applicable to marketers when we start a new planning cycle. Think of it as the clean slate rule. Before entering the meeting room, everyone on the team has to shelve any preconceived notions that could kill ideas.
Exercises like this may seem somewhat cheesy, but they work. Embrace the cheesiness. Even laugh a little when you instruct your team to leave the room to put their “baggage” on that fictional shelf. The simple physical act of getting up and doing this will set the right tone for your planning meeting and encourage fresh ideas.
Another way to make sure you approach planning with a fresh perspective is to outlaw certain words or phrases in meetings. We’ve all heard of buzzword bingo. Create your own buzzword bingo board with things unique to your organization that are known to shut people down. And instead of encouraging your team to use enough of these phrases to yell out, “Bingo,” challenge them to not get one single square.
One phrase I like to outlaw is “We’ve already tried that.” You might think that phrase is fitting, and you might even encourage it when your goal is fresh thinking. But in my experience, that phrase shuts people down. That’s especially true for new team members who weren’t around the last time that idea surfaced. Additionally, someone new who brings it to the table perhaps had a different — most likely successful — experience with the concept. Hear them out. Chances are the idea was never bad; maybe it was just poorly executed.
What words or phrases tend to keep your team from letting new ideas flow? Get your own buzzword bingo template here and personalize it for your next brainstorming meeting.