Generating Ideas 4: Breaking the rules

Katherine William-Powlett shares her thoughts on innovation and on leadership in the voluntary sector. Katherine no longer works for NCVO but her posts have been archived on this site for reference.

Can you think of a really different original way of fundraisng right now?  Probably not – it’s difficult to come up with a fantastic idea on the spot.  With the right environment, creative mindset and preparation  you will be amazed by what you can come up with.  My last blog looked at one way to prompt ideas, Stealing with Style.  This one and the next will outline some other popular tools that really get ideas flowing.

Break the Rules (also called Revolution)

The technique involves thinking of all the normal rules you would apply to the issue you are wanting to solve (See What’s your Problem?) ands then turning them on their heads and exploring.


Many organisations find that they have too many ineffectual meetings and would like to make them more worthwhile.  What are the norms for meetings within your organisation?

  • we sit at a table.
  • we have them in the team leader’s office.
  • the team leader chairs the meeting.
  • they always last an hour.
  • the team leader decides the agenda.
  • no-one really wants to be there.
  • they are face to face.

If you break the rules and then generate ideas around the new rules you might come up with 15 minute standing meetings in a stimulating environment with all decisions made by voting online prior to the meeting.

Step by step

  1. Prepare your group, be clear about the problem you wish to solve and set the ground rules (see earlier blogs in the Generating Ideas series).
  2. State the problem challenge.
  3. List the rules and norms that usually apply to the situation.
  4. Break the rules – rewrite them by turning them on their heads.
  5. Generate ideas stimulated by the new rules.  NB ground rules.

Have a go and post your insights on the Innovation Group discussion thread below.

But remember, getting the ideas is just a step in the process. To find out about choosing which to focus on come to Innovation Group LIVE! Selecting the Best Ideas.

Learn more: there is a mass of information on brainstorming online.  For an engaging (but product-focused) book with lots of practical advice look at Sticky Wisdom by ?WhatIf!

Katherine William-Powlett’s blog

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