There's a notion that *professional* designers need to show only one version of a concept to clients or stakeholders. At ZURB, we don't think that's the best rule of thumb. Although sometimes having only one version can be good for moving a project along, overall this methodology is flawed for a few reasons.
Multiple ideas create better ideas
A new spark can emerge in the process, so keep those concepts flowing. Collaboration is a great way to open up new ideas, and it helps create lots and lots of new ideas. Soliciting input from others allows you to get great ideas from numerous team members.
Focus, don't give them a buffet of options
Worry less about how many you are accumulating, and more about how you're focusing the design problem. They can be pared down later. If you're not careful developing multiple design concepts can get you into trouble. You run the risk of offering too many choices without a clear sense of direction. Showing three focused solutions is far better than showing 10 "choices." Design doesn't work like a vending machine, so if you're presenting your ideas like a snack bar, you're going to get a client selecting whatever looks tastiest at the time.
Designers need to build relationships to help clients work through decisions they may not understand. Revealing your design process with the three-concept rule builds trust and helps those who aren't design specialists understand how things will unfold.
The idea of showing three focused concepts to a client may take some getting used to, but it's the best way to help your client meet their end goals. Remember, a client or stakeholder may not understand your choice of puce green, but if it helps her solve a problem, then you're doing your job.