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Why you should come up with crazy, horrible, awful ideas.

I’m re-reading Frank Chimero’s Shape of Design at the moment. It’s the kind of book I’ve skimmed and quoted many times, but reading it cover to cover has elicited an entirely different (and excellent) experience – an appreciation, if you will. This stood out in particular:

“The creative process, like a good story, needs to start with a great leap of lightness, and that is only attainable through a suspension of disbelief. The objectives [of a project] shouldn’t be ignored forever, but they should be defined ahead of time, set aside, and then deployed at the appropriate moment so that we may be audacious with our ideas.”

Chimero, here, is referencing the beauty to be found in the ugly – the random – the crazy, insane, and audacious. The creative process has a funny way of becoming “give the client what they want” – when really, it needs to be, “give the client what’s best for their audience”. But we let objectives, goals, and “what’s realistic” get in our way – at least, we let it stifle us a little too soon.

What if you allowed yourself to come up with crazy, horrible, awful ideas? When met with a challenge at your own business or organization, what if you had permission to say the “stupid” things you’re afraid to say.

You’ll undoubtedly get some funny looks, some laughs, and some blank stares, sure. But you’ll also allow yourself to explore possibility. Chimero continues:

“The important realization to have from this fun – though fruitless – exercise is that every idea you have after these will be better. Your ideas must improve, because there is no conceivable¬†way you could come up with anything worse…Even wandering is productive, so that is precisely what should be done.”

Wandering can be and is insanely productive. The best ideas don’t come when we’re stifled by what we’re “supposed” to do. They don’t come when we’re scrambling and busy. The best ideas come when we’re bored.¬†When we have room to breathe, to speak our mind, to share openly and freely. On a walk. In the shower. In line at the grocery store.

I’d say we’d be better off throwing our crazy, horrible, awful ideas out there. At least they’re “out there” and not “in here”. At the very least, there’s nowhere to go but up.

Here’s to the next horrible idea!

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