Copping a high five to the face, waking up mid-root canal, enduring Nickelback’s entire discography, inserting a fork into your eyeball – all undeniably excruciating. But the oft-maligned and commonly dreaded activity of facilitating a brainstorm needn’t fall within the same category. A well-run brainstorm is fun, energetic, collaborative and sure to generate kick-arse ideas. However, many brainstorming activities are flawed and can end up producing creatively parched, stone-faced humans inches from thumping their heads against desks. No bueno.
Companies are fuelled by good ideas. The creative ideas lie not in reason and logic, but rather in spontaneous, uninhibited thought. Take it old-school with pen and paper. Commandeer some form of recording device. Woe is life when you verbalise the most incredible idea ever conceived with nothing to capture the magic! Record your brainstorming session on your phone so your mouth can be given permission to shine.
1. Attitude of gratitude
In order to get the most out of a team for a brainstorming session, ask everyone to text someone they are grateful for prior to your session, meaning when you start the meeting, everyone comes in with a positive and open mind. Prompting one another to be grateful for the little things inspires big thinking while promoting the kind of attitude that is ready to hit a home run.
2. Worst comes first
Begin the session by challenging your team to come up with the worst idea possible.
Even make it a competition, trying to one-up each other with even more ridiculous and outlandish ideas. It’s a sure-fire way to lighten the mood and loosen the straight jackets. Usually after a few minutes of sharing terrible ideas, someone will have a breakthrough, and you’ll explode into dangerously creative territory.
3. Musical chairs
Anyone, at any time, has permission to call out, “Seats on fire!” This prompts everyone in the room to jump up from where they’re sitting and swap chairs. I have no evidence to prove it, but I’m convinced that shifting yourself physically helps to shift your mental self.
4. Roadblock removal
Make a pronounced effort to eliminate all constraints, pretending there are no limitations on budget, time or other resources. Your team can think as big or expensive as their minds can imagine. Removing roadblocks frees up room for fresh perspectives and ideas that wouldn’t have had room to breathe otherwise.
5. Role play
It’s not just for kids (or your significant other, wink wink). You can do role play anytime with your team, putting yourself in the position of your customer, your problem child, or even the competition. Consider what they would do in certain situations, and how they might approach the problem differently. Shifting your perspective might be all it takes to break out of the brain drain – and you could possibly reveal the majestic hidden dramatic talents of your colleagues.