Saturday, February 02, 2013

Thinking outside the box … really

What do a pair of little boy’s underwear, a bag of drugs and an image consultant have in common?  A good question, but surprisingly more than you would think.

This was the flow of our discussion at our recent Brainstorming Dinner in Toronto. I guess in many ways you had to be there, but as Marilyn Barefoot led us through her provocative exercises, it was amazing to see the outcomes.   Who knew that there would be any correlation between any of these items listed above?  Yet not only did we find a connection, but they kick-started some fascinating ideas.

As a precursor to this meeting, we all had to complete a quick quiz to identify our “brainstorming” style and as a result that night we were divided into teams with a range of women who were Realists, Builders or Dreamers.

Taking two obscure items from the purses of two of the women, we listed words of immediate association with the objects.  In our case, it was a three-year old's pair of panties (clean), and a plastic bag of drugs (the holistic variety).  You can perhaps imagine the range of words we came up with, from toilet training to healthy lifestyle!

Marilyn then selected one woman who asked the group to brainstorm on how to recruit clients who would access her image consulting services.

Each team was empowered to use the words they had identified to trigger ideas that might work for the image consultant.  You may wonder what suggestions we made, given our words.  And you also may be very surprised.

Given much of our vocabulary was focused on preschoolers, our thoughts immediately turned to their mothers who may be returning to the workforce and need clothing that would be economical and versatile.   As for the drugs, we turned that into healthy lifestyles, losing weight and the potential of working with Weight Watchers whose clients with their new weight loss, would need new clothes.

So as you can see, we moved far beyond the original items and with the freedom to think beyond the obvious, were able to come up with some different ideas.  Not only was this a fun experience, it provided an ah-ha moment for many of us, and I have a feeling that we left changed, and more open to the ways you can be creative and come up with new ideas.

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