“I use a trick with co-workers when we’re trying to decide where to eat for lunch and no one has any ideas. I recommend McDonald’s. An interesting thing happens. Everyone unanimously agrees that we can’t possibly go to McDonald’s, and better lunch suggestions emerge. Magic!” — Jon Bell

Jon Bell utilizes this tactic, what he calls “The McDonald’s Theory” to help break deadlock. It’s a simple technique to surface ideas from an otherwise timid room. He continues:

The next time a project is being discussed in its early stages, grab a marker, go to the board, and throw something up there. The idea will probably be stupid, but that’s good! McDonald’s Theory teaches us that it will trigger the group into action.

  • A

    This was my best trick in helping my boss when I worked as an EA. He
    would be overwhelmed with all his tasks, and if I said, “can I help
    you?” he’d look at me like a deer caught in headlights. If I said, “What
    are you doing?” and then said, “how about I do that?” He’d usually say,
    “No, but here’s what you CAN do…” and then I’d have a pile of work
    from him. It helped us both.

  • http://FindingWhy.com/ Joel D Canfield

    Jonah Lehrer recommends something very similar in “Imagine.” It’s excellent; I love seeing people think “Hey, if he can offer THAT stupid idea, maybe mine isn’t so bad after all.”

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