This isn’t your First Grader’s Brainstorm

Sitting in my first grade classroom I had visions of towering thunder clouds intertwining with hippie-esque waves as my teacher carefully drew a map on the chalkboard and explained the “brainstorming” process we were about to experience. I don’t remember what the purpose of my first brainstorm was, just that the idea felt so wild and unrestrained that I couldn’t understand why the teacher insisted on trapping our thoughts on a stick and bubble diagram.

Then comes the agency world where brainstorms jump off the chalkboard and become tangible, real life creations. Sometimes they manifest themselves as larger than life brand personalities like the Burger King or the Old Spice guy. Sometimes they lay the foundation for fund raising initiatives that save lives. But regardless of their purpose, they are perpetual enemies to the stick and bubble diagram.

The participants don’t sit quietly in their desks, they pace around the room trying to feel out their thoughts. Dry erase markers fly across white boards in a chaotic attempt to document the genius moments. You laugh at the clever ideas, furrow your eyebrows at the complex ones, and fall silent when the epiphany finally comes. Your brain is firing on all cylinders and when you’re done you feel a sense of satisfying mental exhaustion.

There are few experiences that transform into something even more magical than what they once were in childhood, but brainstorming is definitely one of them.

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