I did some freelance for Possible Worldwide (nee Bridge Worldwide) a couple of years ago on ConAgra’s Banquet Frozen Foods. As part of the exercise, all team members were asked to go the grocery store and plan a meal at a given weekly budget. My assignment was “retired man with a weekly food budget of $50.” I was to record what I bought and report in. Neat exercise. Great start to the project. Great formula for priming the pump and creating context.
Then we had the team meeting. I’m not exactly sure what came out of the meeting but it wasn’t brilliance. I do not really recall any visceral insights or discussions. And recall in planning is where it’s at.
The exercise could have gotten exciting at this meeting had it been more fluid. The thinking of collectives is best when accompanied by serendipity. Had the in-store exercise been used as a spark and team members set loose to report findings and start discussions in their own ways, we may have had some magic. I, for instance, may have presented “7 anxieties.” What goes through a man’s head at shopping time, when budgeted only $50 per week.
In planning, sometimes the tools we use limit us. It’s natural. The rules we use in planning are also natural. But the excitement comes from agility, inspiration, experimentation. So use your tools then break some rules. Peace.