“I’m fully charged by this idea.”

I re-read Mark Boulton’s A Practical Guide to Designing for the Web this week and was inspired by a bit of wisdom from his ‘Ideas’ chapter.

In this chapter, Mr. Boulton lays out a very useful strategy for conducting brainstorm meetings that involves ranking generated ideas using what he calls a 'Passion-O-Meter.’ By his own admission, this is just a “fancy name for using some stickers”, but I was struck by the potential of the idea to offset emotions that often accompany such an exercise.

Have you ever been in meeting where someone got offended because their idea was ill-received? I have.

Because Mr. Boulton did not provide any explicit instructions (or ready-made stickers for that matter), I was required to develop my own version of the 'Passion-O-Meter.’ I wanted to make the ranking process as fluid, fun, and free of conflict as possible. So the first thing I had to decide was what to actually put on the stickers themselves. In my experience ideas generally fall into 1 of 3 categories:

  • Great
  • Good
  • Not So Good

Since I knew the stickers were going to be physically affixed to the ideas themselves (we write them out on a giant 20ft X 20ft whiteboard) I had to make sure they weren’t egregious in any way. No 'loser stamps’ allowed. At the same time, I wanted something clever and memorable. For some reason, my mind very quickly jumped to the idea of battery meters. Maybe I was inspired by the errant behavior of my iPhone 3G’s battery since updating to the latest OS.

Who knew how much the fluctuating charge level of an iPhone battery could affect one’s mood?

Inspired by the iPhone’s battery meter icon and Simple Bits’ Charge T-Shirt, I created icons and phrases for three possible rankings:

After creating the artwork, the next step was to import the images into an Avery template, in this case #5160. I dubbed my version of the idea ranking process the 'Passion-O-Meter Blitz’ as the team was only given 5 minutes to rank about 30 ideas. I wanted there to be a flurry of activity so that each team member’s votes could be more or less anonymous.

Based on the feedback I received after the meeting (and the efficacy of the ranking procedure itself) it would seem that the battery stickers and my interpretation of Mark Boulton’s 'Passion-O-Meter’ exercise were a success!

If you’d like to use the battery stickers I created in your own brainstorm meetings, please feel free to download the Adobe Illustrator source file from my repository on GitHub:


—Written by Billy