Of course, you probably guessed – it depends! Masterpiece – quality. Books – quantity (haha). Friends – definitely quality. But I would like to focus on the “quantity over quality” rule that is everpresent in design thinking, brainstorming, design sprints, Lightning Decision Jams, or other creative endeavors.
I remember having meetings were not only the entire approach to group discussion was very old-fashion managerial, but the activity where we worked solutions was limited to just writing 5 ideas, or working within 5-minute time constraints, or – what’s worts – on the diea+critisim basis! Another situation, when brainstorming produces maybe 11 ideas and that’s it, no development, we were later choosing one from those 11!
In the above examples and any ideation process, quantity is much more important. Here’s a short version of what happens when you generate many ideas:
+ Your mind gets going, turns into a production mode and after a while, you just keep shooting ideas left and right!
+ “Creativity muscle” gets activated, so with time, the ideas get bigger and crazier.
+ If there are many, there is a big pool to choose from.
+ Lots of ideas inspire other ideas to be more refined – crazy concepts get a reality check and turn into viable options.
+ Some of the ideas you can turn down immediately, qualifying them as failures – that makes you aware of what could happen if you didn’t think of them prior.
+ What’s left gets refined and scoped, some of the ideas can be merged and developed into something bigger.
+ You still have a pool of inspiration, and you might use it later, or for another project.
+ Next time you start ideation, your mind will switch to production mode much quicker, as it’s getting regular exercise.
In a longer explanation: if you have many ideas, then there is a greater probability there golden one is already hidden within the bunch. You need to sift lots of sand to find this one spec of gold. And remember, we’re talking about the structured problem-solving environment, where we have other tools that will let us make further, educated choices (i.e. I don’t mean let’s take a hundred of photos of the same tree and spend 5 days choosing one for an Instagram post).
I encourage you to exercise this every time you have an opportunity to ideate. It’s a great wat that will bring you to a better solution/choice/decision (with the proper overall process and logical post-ideation analysis).
To put a cherry on this thinking, here are a few articles that deal with the same subject:
+ When quantity trumps quality, by designer Femke van Schoonhoven
+ Quantity Trumps Quality, by Post-It Brand
+ Quantity vs. Quality in Collaborations, by Roberto Verganti from Harvard Business Review