Seems that we shopper marketers spend half our lives in brainstorms. And that makes sense; the perfect idea will make a huge impact in-store and in the minds of the consumer. No-boundary thinking is the heart of smart retail marketing. So in your next idea session, maybe you should go it alone.
I know your smartphone goes everywhere you go; to the java shop, on the 7:16 out of LaGuardia, even to the movies (making it super easy to look up the answers to those challenging pre-film trivia questions); so does mine. But the next time you head into a brainstorm meeting, forgo the phone.
Don’t get me wrong. The smartphone is great; a sexy sliver of glass and aluminum that puts the world literally at your fingertips. But that instant access — that always-on avalanche of information and images – is exactly what can become distracting and isolating at a moment when human connection is critical. The brainstorm is a time of interacting with the people and ideas in the room, not the machine in your hand.
At this point in the process, we’re not vetting concepts; we’re building them. We’re exploring, searching, what if-ing. We’re not concerned with how it will work; we’re concerned with what “it” is. With the smartphone right there, it’s too tempting to confirm facts and do-ability. And too easy to kill an idea before it’s had a chance to be fully explored. “Yes!” becomes “That’s already been done” or “No way we can make that happen.”
It’s about being fully present. It’s hard to do the brainstorm basics – support, listen, build – when you’re caught up in solo surfing. It’s not enough to just be in the room, you have to be in the moment.
My friend Sally told a great story the other night about how the dynamic of her family gatherings has changed. Back in the day, she said, an idea or point of view was voiced, debated, examined and played with for hours. The best part? Everyone left the room convinced they had been right.
But now, rather than spirited conversation, there is quick fact checking on a smartphone. And someone in Sally’s family gets to be right. But the conversation is over.
In your next brainstorm, keep the conversation. Lose the phone.
Challenge yourself to go phone-less to your next brainstorm. How did it change the experience?