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Friday, May 2, 2008

A Friday Shrimp Special

This fun Friday (or any other day) exercise turns ho-hum ideas into bigger, more dramatic ones. We call the exercise “Shrimp” because it’s typically applied to small, leftover ideas (much like Japanese Steak House chefs save a few shrimp to throw at the meal’s end). Here are the steps:

  1. Take 5 or 10 of your smallest, weakest, or run-of-the-mill ideas to reach your business objective.
  2. Select an authority figure (it can be a boss, the board of directors, or a regulatory body) that could shoot down any new possibilities emerging from these ideas. The more distinct and well-known the authority’s personality the better.
  3. Use your starter ideas to create incredibly outrageous possibilities by asking, “How could we turn this idea into something that supports our objective but that our authority figure would COMPLETELY HATE?” Remember, you’re going for GENUINE ANGER, not just discomfort; it’s okay to think inappropriate, embarrassing, even illegal possibilities. Go for at least 3 - 5 new possibilities for each starter idea.
  4. Then, for each new outrageous possibility, ask the following question to bring it back to reality: “How could we carry out this concept in ways that are acceptable, realistic, feasible, or actually able to be implemented?” Don’t settle for less than 10 new concepts from each outrageous idea.

These new, more mainstream ideas will benefit from being stretched beyond the boundaries of normal thinking. They typically take on a surprising richness and depth by having been run through “Shrimp.”

Also by encouraging your group to engage in thinking outside conventions under which it normally operates, the exercise creates both great ideas and great fun! What more could you want for a Friday!

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