Jan 15, 2011

Blamestorm VS Brainstorm

I'm always looking for an update over at Tom Fishburne's blog, "Marketoonist." They're usually spot on, bringing to light Tom's thoughts on various advertising subjects that many hard-boiled ad-suits would find too taboo to actually say out loud.

His recent ad-toon coins the phrase "blamestorming," and while my take on the phrase may have a bit different spin, I believe Tom is revealing a very real brainstorming problem, where creative teams, bloated with multiple swollen egos, devolve into finger pointing pros who miss the point of why they gathered.

In my experience, a brainstorm morphs into a blamestorm when a creative team meets under the guise of getting something creative done, but instead uses the time to criticize or poo-poo on any ideas that may come out during the jam session. Do any research on brainstorming and you'll hear the popular phrase, "there is no such thing as a bad idea." Everyone likes to say that, but as Tom Fishburne points out, too often it's more like, "remember, there's no such thing as unconstructive criticism."

I've sat through many of these blamestorms over the years. I've always wondered if the folks running the creative meeting had any sense of what a brainstorming session was at all.

A brainstorming session should be a place where ideas are born and captured, regardless of value or correctness. Then, after the ideas are all out on the table, every rabbit hole having been explored, the ideas are sifted through, then paired with one another, allowing something new and great to be born. Working in this way allows a true team to form, every member seeing their input play an important part in the final direction.

When's the last time you've worked on team where the brainstorming session truly created something wonderful and new? Was it painful getting there? In my opinion, it should never be a challenge of egos in a brainstorming session, with each individual trying to out create the other, or prove that they're the saltier marketer.

A brainstorming session should always be about the client and their project, the goal being to determine the best direction, and hopefully that direction will be fueled by the collective creativity of everyone involved, the client included.
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