That particular word in creative strategy sessions often generates an internal groan, no matter if it’s dressed up as “however,” “even so,” or in its original form. “But” means that my brilliant idea or creative suggestion is about to get some serious holes poked in it. Being a stubborn person, it’s easy to put my guard up and be prepared to fight for my idea. But, that’s hardly ever the best way to go in a creative strategy session. When you’re in a collaborative meeting, butting heads and being open-minded is the best way to work through the mediocre ideas to arrive at a truly great concept.
My boss loves to say the B word to me when we’re strategizing. While it can be frustrating to be proven wrong so often, I wouldn’t trade it for words of praise at my first ideas. “But” gets you to open your mind and think, solve the problem at hand from multiple angles and, most importantly, learn a whole heck of a lot. Being a young designer in the business, I’m always learning, and I never wish to stop. I not only have the joy of being able to learn more about design and production, but also about business strategy and problem solving.
The B word is also my go-to term when I disagree with a fellow colleague or am being particularly stubborn. It’s a two-way street. You can create an energy of building up ideas, playing off of disagreement until you arrive at that solid concept that’s been hiding behind your initial mental and emotional reactions. While it can be a pain at times, “but” usually comes through and helps the collaborative process along.
The trick to the B word is not to shut people down. When you’re being creative, shooting down ideas left and right can quickly make a person feel alienated and still their creative flow. “But” should be used to help build off of ideas, and to validate aspects of an idea while improving upon it. When used correctly, it can be a great term.
Remember, creative strategy sessions are best when you can throw all of your ideas out there and not be afraid to collaborate toward the best solution. Disagreement should be open and constructive, not restrictive. Use the B word carefully! There are no “buts” about it…