Jon Bell, writing over at Medium, explains a way to generate ideas through a method he calls the McDonald’s Theory:
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!
It’s as if we’ve broken the ice with the worst possible idea, and now that the discussion has started, people suddenly get very creative. I call it the McDonald’s Theory: people are inspired to come up with good ideas to ward off bad ones.
In my last semester of college, I was a co-editor of the weekly arts magazine’s humor section. I was thrown into it because I had pretty much tried my hand at every other section, but was terrified about writing things that needed to be funny to a broad audience. Hell, I didn’t even like the idea of trying to be funny with co-editors/writers before publication.
I only became comfortable in the work when I learned what Bell describes above: when working — particularly in groups, although Bell wisely compares this idea to Anne Lamott’s “Shitty First Drafts” essay, so it’s easily applicable to individual work as well — tossing out unfunny or obvious ideas was a great way to start the conversation. In volunteering to get the first (and usually awful) idea out of the way, everyone was comfortable to contribute, because their ideas surely were better than that first one.