Bunches of Bananas

A to Z of
Creativity Techniques

The Bunches of Bananas technique is one of lateral thinking, reducing excessive left-brain attention (which may be fueling a closed mindset). For example, there are people who instinctively liven up a sluggish meeting by being provocative, or ‘throwing in a bunch of bananas’. Such actions can help spur others' creativity.

Here are some tips:

  1. Consider the mood and atmosphere: are there any signs of ‘stuckness, sluggishness, and inertia’?
  2. What could you say or do to assist the group out of that state of ‘stuckness’. Create ‘bunches of bananas’ to suit your own character and style.
  3. Bear in mind in mind that you are engaging in a ‘whole-brain’ activity. Just as with a comedian, it is as much the delivery as the idea, which brings about the effect.
  4. If the group is inexperienced, the approach may have to be appropriately signalled: ‘I know this is going to sound a little crazy, but bear with me a minute or so. Sometime you can get out of a rut in the most unexpected ways…’
  5. For example, a group wanting to market goods from the UK to Australia exhausted all the obvious possibilities and seemed to be ‘stuck’. Then someone said:
    • ‘We don’t seem to be getting very far. What I’d like to do would be to find a product that every Australian sheep would be clamouring to buy’.
    • Although this comment could have been met with disapproval or polite silence, the timing of his ‘bunch of bananas’ was just right and someone picked up the idea:
    • ‘Sheep? Oh, you mean for us find large numbers of customers who can be influenced easily. Perhaps we have been concentrating too hard on too few clients’.
    • The discussion this idea triggered, eventually led to a new product being marketed to Australia.
    • 'Bunches of bananas’ can come in a variety of forms – any well placed joke or image that captures attention when appropriate. The simple use of Random Stimuli of Various Kinds can often have the same effect.

In many ways, the actual content of the intervention is not important. It is concerned more with mood than with correctness of content, although it does involve some risk and uncertainty, as you can never foresee the consequence the intervention will have.