Want to Get Promoted? Try to Get Fired

Stuck in an innovation rut? Here’s a technique that will help get those creative juices flowing again.

Give yourself this task: “What idea could I come up with that would get me fired?”

I’m not talking about spreading company gossip on Facebook or throwing up all over the CEO at the office summer party.

I’m talking about creating an idea for your brand that seems so patently absurd that it could get you fired.

By thinking in this way, going to the extreme opposite of what’s expected, you actually free up your thinking and might just come up with a nugget of an idea that could be refined into something more plausible, maybe even brilliant and highly marketable.

Here’s an example that came from an agency I met last year who first turned me on to this “fired” technique. (For reasons of confidentiality I am omitting the Agency and the Client).

The Agency was tasked with thinking up new ideas for a very popular children’s doll. This doll had been portrayed in all sorts of “respectable” situations: dentist, Olympic athlete, teacher, etc.

So using this firing technique they said, “What about a hooker version of the doll?”

Well of course, this wasn’t what they were going to actually recommend…but by allowing themselves to play with this absurd idea it led them to think about the nigh time as an important day part for this doll (something they hadn’t really explored before).

And eventually they came up with an idea for a Pajama Party line extension that was quite on brand, new for this product, and very relevant to the target audience of 6-10 year old girls.

Too often we are our own worst enemies in terms of innovation. Often (unconsciously) we immediately narrow the territories in which we think and create.

By deliberately going so far out of our comfort zones that a pink slip is the only conceivable outcome…we free our minds up to think more creatively and to come up with really new ideas.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?

What ideas could get your fired (and perhaps promoted)?

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“Brand School helped me get clear on my messaging and my brand. Now my clients know exactly what it is I bring to my classes.” – Josh Pais, Actor and Founder of Committed Impulse, creativity workshop

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