When brainstorming is like playing chess

We are not expert chess players. Heck, we are not even good chess players. But we’re good at brainstorming creative ideas and solutions.

After learning a little bit about chess, we’ve noticed a parallel between the two. Namely, that brainstorming is like listing your “candidate moves.”

What’s a candidate move?

There are some extremely complex definitions of candidate moves on the internet, so we turned to everyone’s online “frenemy,” Wikipedia, where we found this:

“In abstract strategy board games, candidate moves are moves which, upon initial observation of the position, seem to warrant further analysis. Although in theory the idea of candidate moves can be applied to games such as checkers, go, and xiangqi, it is most often used in the context of chess.”

That’s a mouthful. So to simplify the idea, let’s just say candidate moves are the moves you could make next.

How does this relate to brainstorming?

The theory goes that successful chess players go through the complete list of their candidate moves first. Only after the complete list has been created do they begin to dig a little deeper and eliminate potential moves.

Chess players, the successful ones at least, take these little steps over and over again, making further eliminations until the best move remains.

That’s the lesson: there’s something powerful about laying out all your options before you begin any kind of critical analysis.

And that’s just like brainstorming.

The best brainstorming sessions get the ideas on the board first. There is no time for criticism of any kind. Only when you’re done – when you’re completely tapped out of ideas – should you turn your critical eye to your ideas.

The best brainstorming sessions get the ideas on the board first. There is no time for criticism of any kind.

If you start thinking about an executive’s possible response, the complexity involved in executing on an idea, or any other limiting thought, you’re in trouble. It’ll be checkmate for your creative output.

So explore the possibilities and resist the urge to be critical early in the brainstorming process.

Contact us at 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com for creative solutions to your marketing challenges.

Read more:

How to lead a brainstorming session

Idea-generating tips for financial services pros