Today, I am sharing a practice for producing, filtering and assessing your ideas. This concept was first introduced to me at a D&AD creative workshop I attended whilst at university. This practice for assessing and filtering down ideas is called The Polite Bin Method.
The Polite Bin is a metaphorical place where our rejected or unused ideas go. It is my belief that there is no such thing as a bad idea, just ideas that aren’t necessarily right for the project, client or brief you are currently working on. The purpose of The Polite Bin is to get all of the ideas on the table (every single one of them) leaving no stone unturned, and then, trash most of them.
Anything that doesn’t spark a “hell yes, there could be something here” feeling, get rid of it in The Polite Bin. The rules of the Bin are that there’s no shaming what’s goes in there, and no idea is too silly or outrageous to put forward. At the end of the creative brainstorming process, you should end up with more ideas in The Polite Bin than left out.
This concept is otherwise known as a “shitty first draft” in design thinking.
At this first stage, it really is about quantity over quality. The quality and refinement can come later. At the early ideas generation stage, it’s all about getting everything out on the table – letting go of perfectionism or expectations of your first ideas being good and just lay everything out to be digested and mulled over.
It is also important to note that the Bin is polite. Meaning you shouldn’t self-criticise or judge your past self for the ideas you have come up with, even if they are not the right ones. Being polite in this context is about being kind to yourself and letting go of judgement.
I always recommend keeping these unused ideas somewhere for future reference – even if you can’t envision them ever coming out of The Polite Bin. Whether that is in a notebook, Google doc, or my personal favourite, Evernote in which you can categorise and filter ideas so that you can one day come back to them when the time is right.
Have you ever had this experience of returning to an idea at a much later date and for something different entirely?