Brainstorming: Two Rooms

Put a bunch of people in the Red Room and ask them to come up with the perfect idea:  they’ll say, how about A?  No, because B.  How about X?  No, because Y.  It doesn’t take long until the game is no longer an idea search; it’s an idea shoot.

Put a different bunch of people in the Blue Room and ask them to come up with 100 ideas.  Some of them will be good, some of them will be bad.  A bad idea might lead you somewhere good, if you don’t shoot it down.  But  there’s no reason to shoot down any ideas in this room; their task is to come up with 100 ideas.

Ok, when time is up, which list is more valuable to you?  The one idea that survived the Red Room Idea Shoot, or the 100 Blue Room ideas?

Or, maybe the Blue Room failed the task, and failed miserably.  They only came up with 30 ideas.  Which list is more valuable, the 1 idea from the Red Room Idea Shoot or the 30 ideas from the Blue Room?

What if 97 of the Blue Room’s ideas are bad?  Which list is more helpful, the Red Room’s one idea, or the Blue Room’s three good ideas?

What if both rooms fail absolutely miserably?  What if the Red Room shot down every single idea they generated?  And the Blue Room, let’s say they only came up with 2 ideas both bad.  Which list is more useful to you?  Which one was more productive?

Maybe the Red Room will get lucky and they’ll find an absolutely bullet proof idea.  Doesn’t seem like a dependable probability every time, but let’s say they do… there’s a high likelihood that that exact same idea is on the Blue Room’s list as well.  And if it’s bullet proof on the Red Room’s list, it’s also bullet proof on the Blue Room’s list.  Right?  So you still get your bulletproof idea.

Now you tell me, which process is easier… which one is less painful… which process is more creative… the Blue Room’s 100 idea quota, or the Red Room’s idea shoot?

3 thoughts on “Brainstorming: Two Rooms

  1. The good thing about the blue room is that it always works (but usually produces mediocre results since people don’t spend time optimizing their ideas).

    The red room can waste a lot of time fighting over bad ideas (then the results of the blue room tend to be better) or the red room can work very efficiently on improving and optimizing ideas (then the results of the red room tend to be better). It depends on the people in the red room.

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  2. Micah and martinillo,

    Luckily, you don’t have to choose one room or the other when you need some good ideas… First go to the Blue Room; when they’re done, take their list and then give it to the Red Room.

    In other words, brainstorm first; all ideas count. Only when that’s done do you start shooting things down.

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