Build a list of 100

We’ve all been in ruts. We all would like an effective technique that allows us to look at problems differently. Recently, Josiah Johnson, the Director of Business Development at ZeroDash1, and I decided to use the “List of 100” to brainstorm ideas on how to gain a larger footprint in one of our key accounts.

For those who are not familiar, List of 100 is a technique to generate ideas, clarify thoughts, uncover hidden problems or get solutions to any specific questions. The technique is very simple in principle: State your issue or question in the top of a blank sheet of paper and come up with a list of one hundred answers or solutions about it.

Our question was, “How Do We Build a More Dynamic and Powerful Relationship with Company X?”

Phase I: First 30 entries or so: where you escape circular thinking

We started building the list with the first 27 answers coming relatively easily. Most of these, however, were ideas that we had bantered around for some time. The first really original idea came at number 28, where we wanted to include the results of our work with the customer in some of our industry blogs.

Phase II: Next 40 entries: where patterns emerge

The next 40 ideas were difficult to come by. At times, Josiah and I were staring at each other across the table wondering why we ever started the list. We would ask each other how many ideas we had after every five new ideas or so. “Are we there yet, daddy? Are we there yet?” Haha. My mind started wandering off to what I would cook for dinner this weekend.
According to experts, this phase is the most difficult because we had to let go of the ideas we had in the first phase in order to come up with new, distinct ones. For us, a pattern emerged around ways to extend our support to the company’s affiliate organizations. These were worthwhile ideas that we will pursue.

Phase III: Next 30 entries: where the gems are

The last 30 ideas were definitely our most creative. We came up with possible ways to leverage our own website for the customer. I was most happy with ideas around giving additional incentives to our staff for providing the customer extraordinary service and increasing business.

The whole exercise took about 1 hour, 15 minutes. Yes, it was difficult at times as we tried to let go of our initial ideas. In the end, however, we both found the exercise beneficial and are excited to implement some of the ideas that came out.

The question can be for business or personal life. Here is a good guide if you want to try it.