How to Reset Default Thinking

Common Ideas Get Lost in the Noise

I never changed my new phone from its default ringtone.

It works and I’m digitally lazy.

Of course in crowds I can’t be sure if it’s my phone ringing.  My bad for stopping at default.

Default solutions aren’t technically wrong, just indistinguishable.  Pre-sets get you going – better results require thinking beyond. Same with brainstorms.

Most brainstorms start with default thinking – generation of workable, but common solutions.  That first ring that pops in our head.  For example, a “ribbon-cutting ceremony” is a default think when brainstorming retail grand-opening ideas. Solution is technically viable, but a snoozer. Lazy brainstorms stop there.  Better brainstorms use the strategic core of a default idea to generate something fresh. Try this:

Step 1: Default

Proactively define 2-3 default solutions. Meaning literally brainstorm common ways to solve the challenge. For example: a ribbon-cutting ceremony is default solution for announcing a grand opening.

Step 2: Decipher

Ask why your brain defaults to this idea? Why does it make literal or metaphorical sense? There could be many answers, none wrong. Ex: You cut a ribbon when un-wrapping a birthday gift; you cut an umbilical cord when delivering a baby. The core of this default idea involves an act that signals or celebrates birth (of new store).

Step 3:  Detour

Let the strategic core spark a new, even opposite train of thought. Ex: Opposite of birth ritual is death ritual. We might tease store arrival with tongue-in-cheek obituary campaign for what previously occupied the retail space.

Lose you with that idea? Agree the obituary stunt isn’t appropriate, but my point is to show how to  re-set the pre-set.  This morbid train of thought  will certainly carry brains down a fresh track where better emerges.

Love to hear your strategies for battling default thinking – without defeating your team’s confidence? (It’s tricky).