Happy Labor Day !
We were talking with Daniel Scheinert, one of the amazing Daniels who directed Everything Everywhere All At Once. We were telling him about one of the ways we help advocates brainstorm new ideas. If you’ve been in our workshops, you know this exercise: The Impossible-Possible Brainstorm.
Basically, after we have worked with a group to craft an excellent objective and really hone in on their specific audience, it’s time to brainstorm tactics – the actions the group will take to help reach their objectives.
Instead of just brainstorming, we say that the group has 10 minutes to come up with 10 tactic ideas, but the first 7 must be impossible. Impossible, meaning things like: it would cost a million dollars, require thousands of volunteers all wearing spacesuits, or would take 50 years. We encourage people to dream up ideas that are wildly unpopular, break the laws of physics or involve raising the ancestors. They could require 10,000 sandwiches, alien technology, singing dragons (or all three). The more weird and outlandish, the better.
Daniel is brilliant at this kind of thinking, and he loved this exercise. A few weeks after we talked, he was on the picket line of the writers strike with writing friends Ted Tremper, Billy Chew and Daniel Kwan, and used this exercise to encourage the group brainstorm.
Some of the impossible ideas the group came up with:
- Send studio execs on an all-expenses-paid vacation, and while they are gone, steal their identities and end the strike. Get tons of good press, so when they get back, they’re too embarrassed to admit that wasn’t really them.
- Create a new currency that only derives value from original ideas, and so the money made from non-original ideas is worthless.
Daniel said it was so much fun telling people that their unrealistic ideas were too realistic and that we must dream bigger.
We use this exercise because without it, we all tend to fall back on the same old advocacy approaches. After groups come up with impossible ideas, we together find ways to make the impossible ideas possible.
So for example, maybe we can’t send the studio execs on vacation but could we put out a fake press release, like the Barbie Liberation Fronthttps://www.barbieliberation.org/ did recently about the No Plastic Barbie. If we can’t create a new currency, can we make media that imagines what the world would look if original ideas were more valued?
Here’s a link to the Impossible-Possible Brainstorm exercise. Use it in your next meeting, and let us know how it goes! We love hearing those impossible ideas.
Please support the striking writers, actors, UPS workers and others who are fighting the good fight.