creativity techniques

Broccoli Pants: A Technique for Helping With 'Stucks'

Our brains often take the well-trodden path of least resistance. They do like to be comfortable, which is lovely and cosy for us (and them!), but doesn't help us if we are stuck on something. 

Having a deep, directional train of thought can be brilliant if we feel we are on the right track and have cracked whatever it is we are working on. Sometimes though it can feel unsatisfactory when we know that what has got us here will not get us there. We need to reduce our left brain attention and trigger our right brain into action.

At these times, we need something disruptive to overcome our 'stucks'. This is where the 'broccoli pants' technique comes in handy.

It is an adaptation of Tudor Rikards' bunches of bananas creativity technique (we are well on our well to our five a day with this blog!).

'Bunches of bananas' is a metaphor for introducing a somewhat random theme or topic into discussions to unblock and stimulate new thoughts. It is called 'bunches of bananas' just because it's a pretty random name, and I think it also reminds me of how monkeys' attention shifts as soon as bananas appear on the scene, but that's a personal view!

This is how to use bunches of bananas as an unsticker in a meeting. In some ways it's similar to how people often use humour to lighten tension or reduce pressure in groups.

  1. Observe the mood and nature of the discussions. Are people locked into one way of thinking, do they seem stuck?
  2. Think about what you might do or say to unstick the group. Create 'bunches of bananas' that match your personality and style.
  3. Just as it matters how you deliver the punchline of a joke for it to work, your delivery of your 'bunches of bananas' also needs to have the right timing and tone and have the best effect.
  4. Remember that in many ways the content of the disruption usually doesn't matter. What is important is the act of disruption.

You can see an example of how 'bunches of bananas' works in action here.

So what is 'broccoli pants' all about?

I suppose that I am like lots of people in that sometimes I need to generate ideas on my own, due to things like the nature of the task or the time and place at which I need to work. It can be easier to get into a stuck at these times as there is no-one else to trigger alternative approaches. So, I will deliberately disrupt my own thinking by jotting down the most random solution or thought I can midway through an exercise. 

I was working on ideas for blogs and social media one evening and thought I was coming up with pretty similar themes, so I write down the most unrelated words I thought of in the moment, which were 'broccoli pants'. I'm not sure why, it just shows the sophistication of my inner mind I suppose! 😊

Just this small act of disruption sparked new trains of thought and I came up with some very different ideas. Including this post about 'broccoli pants'. They do say that ideas is a numbers game, and that they all don't have to be good to be useful, though!

I do hope that you have fun and some great results from using bunches of bananas and broccoli pants in your own meetings and individual work. I'd love to hear how to get on!

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