Chapter 30: The 1-or-100 Rule

Blog / February 21, 2020

This is an excerpt from Rethink the Business of Creativity.

Solving creative problems isn’t some ethereal, mystical process, and you don’t have to be a genius to do it. The key is trial and error. Anyone who’s ever worked at Rethink will tell you that we get to quality through quantity.

The 1-or-100 Rule forces teams to think beyond the obvious. Whatever problem we’re trying to solve, we cover entire walls with Post-its and fill notebooks cover to cover.

We’ve found that the most original thinking emerges just when you think you’ve exhausted your options.

It’s important to be rigorous about this early in the process, right after the initial briefing. This is the critical gestation period, when ideas flow freely and easily.

Capture every last idea, even if you think they’re wrong.

This phase is when you move past obvious first thoughts and tired ideas into more fertile creative territory.

Chances are, if you think of it in the first twenty minutes, someone else has thought of it before.

Only once you’ve peered into every single nook and cranny will you be certain that you’ve picked the best path forward.

Even then, the work is still just beginning. Goals often change, and generating lots of ideas early on sets you up for success when the problem evolves: you’ll have a reservoir of rough thinking you can draw on to adapt your approach. You’ll know the problem inside out, so you can solve it even if the goalposts move.

Every creative problem is unique and deserves its own custom solution. And custom solutions require a robust, rigorous exploration. Once you’ve got at least 100 ideas, it should be clear which ones rise to the top. But if it isn’t, there’s always the next chapter in this book…

Rethink the Business of Creativity will be available in-store from February 25, or you can pre-order from Indigo or Amazon. Find out more about the book and why we wrote it.