Too many people to please?

Creatives face this problem often. Too many people, too many wishes. Everybody wants everything but the kitchen sink. Such an environment kills creativity. The only outcome is a mess which gives a little to everybody, but pleases nobody.

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“It should be easy, right? Do your magic. Make it happen.”

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Case in point, Gillette.

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Sort of reminds me of this:

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The absolute worst are the brainstorming sessions with people who feel the best way to come up with ideas involves big, giant pads of paper on which random ideas from the loudest members of the group are written down and stuck on the wall. The person in charge invariably says at some point, “Come on people. There are no bad ideas. Let’s hear more of them.”

Steve_O’s video example being a good example of what emerges from these kinds of brainstorming sessions. I’ve also noticed that it’s typically the clueless MBA graduates who head down this road when running the meetings. It’s as though they’re taught this counterproductive leadership, group-think crap in school.

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I had a brief conversation about a potential logo design for a non-profit that I am somewhat familiar with. I listened and nodded my head knowing in the back of my head that a committee would be involved and that I’d likely turn down the work based on that involvement.

Theoretically, I like this kind of initial brainstorming meeting… At the beginning. As a way to get started, make everyone feel they’re involved, and to get some good ideas.

But then the group should go away so I can work just with the deciders.

Well, it’s a nice daydream, anyway.

When it comes to working with clients, at my day job, we pretty much refuse to engage in these kinds of brainstorming sessions with clients. With my freelance work, sometimes its inevitable short of turning down the job.

Similar to what you mentioned, I like to work with two or three decision makers. They can have whatever meetings they want back at their office, but when I speak with them, I want to know what the problem is they’ve come to us to solve. I ask a whole bunch of questions then, at an agreed-upon-time, down the road, we present them with proposed solutions.

If they have two or three ideas, great, I want to hear them to get an idea of what they’re thinking. But if it begins to deteriorate into a back-and-forth discussion of people batting around off-the-top-of-their-head ideas, I’ll find an excuse to shut it down before it goes off the rails and everything turns into a half-baked mush of bad ingredients.

Working within small, tightly knit teams who are on top of things can be great, but big brainstorming sessions have never worked for me.

Here’s an article on brainstorming from the Harvard Business Review that I totally agree with:

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