The dreaded blank flipchart… A better approach to creating new ideas

That awful white piece of paper is terrifying.  No-one has an idea, no-one wants to go first, and if you’re not careful all you’ll do is write up on the board, one hour later, ‘Try (a different course).’

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That dreaded blank flipchart…

So, you’re sitting in a large circle, you and the elders, and someone has written on the top of the flipchart the word “Evangelism”.

Your task in the next hour, is to come up with what you’re going to do differently this year. To analyse what isn’t working, and what is, and why.

Any guesses what might be on the paper in 10 minutes?  20?  45?

That awful white piece of paper is terrifying.  No-one has an idea, no-one wants to go first, and if you’re not careful all you’ll do is write up on the board, one hour later, ‘Try (a different course).’

So let’s try another approach – one I’ve nicked from Creating Great Choices by Jennifer Riel and Roger Martin.

Challenge the group to come up with the ten worst ideas you could do. The absolute sheet-1286228_1920pits. Yelling at people outside in the street.  Running an evangelistic nude life-drawing class.  You get the idea – let the whole thing rip.  Let people have a giggle. The bonkers the better, because you’re not going to actually do them. You’ll find that coming up with really bad ideas is much easier, and funnier, than coming up with good ones.

Then split them into pairs.  Their task is to choose the one they think is the absolute worst on the list, and then to make out the most persuasive case they can for doing it.  They’re going to make the best pitch for the worst idea imaginable.

Because, again, you’re not going to actually do them.

Then, having heard all the pitches and having had a good laugh, try to work out what good ideas, biblical values, were actually embedded in those daft ideas, focus on those values and see if you could take one of them – just one of them – across the line into something plausible.

Have a go.

It’ll cheer up your next elders meeting, anyway.

61X8PUKrxvLCreating Great Choices: A Leader’s Guide to Integrative Thinking, Jennifer Riel and Roger L. Martin, Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2017

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