One of my favorite strategies for fostering innovation and creativity is encouraging absurd ideas. This helps free us up from coming up with “good” or “right” ideas, which can limit all of us to the ideas we have already thought of and vetted and tried. Encouraging absurd ideas removes the constraints of financial realities, social norms, legality strictly speaking, and even such annoying limitations such as time and gravity.
Absurd Ideas Foster Innovation
Absurd ideas can be useful for some of the following reasons.
- Brainstorming: Being encouraged to throw out absurd ideas turns our filter off and fosters real brainstorming, creativity, and innovation.
- Humor: Absurd ideas often generate humor and laughter, which can be critical in helping foster creativity and see new possibilities.
- Fun: Generating absurd ideas can be fun and engaging in what can otherwise be serious, challenging, and difficult processes.
- Idea Generation: Throwing out a bunch of absurd ideas gives us some material to work with, consider, evaluate, and build off for more idea generation.
- Engagement: Encouraging absurd ideas can free some participants up to take the risk and engage in ways that they otherwise would not be willing to do.
- Seeds of Good Ideas: Often, these absurd ideas can be turned into good ideas with just a twist or shift in scale or context.
- Great Ideas: Occasionally, after really considering an absurd idea, we realize it is not actually so absurd and could turnout to be a viable or even great idea.
Absurd Ideas Are Helpful in Many Contexts
I have used absurd ideas to help individuals and organizations in the following contexts.
- Considering new directions and possibilities for strategic planning retreats
- Brainstorming strategies to foster learning in curriculum retreats
- Helping coaching clients to consider options when they feel stuck
- Getting executive teams to think of new possibilities
- Generating ideas for staff training and development
- Helping individuals and groups think bigger