If you’re after more productive results from your company’s brainstorming sessions, try these new approaches.
Traditional brainstorming doesn’t work because it goes against the way our creative brains work best, according to Judah Pollack and Olivia Fox Cabane, writing for Fast Company.
Getting together to share our thoughts and ideas with others is only part of the process. The most effective sequence is:
- Go solo to let our minds and imaginations wander.
- Give and take new information in a group setting.
- Step away again to reflect on what we have learned.
These alternative brainstorm strategies, tried and tested by Pollack and Cabane, might be more time-consuming, but they follow a more natural, comfortable, engaging and worthwhile route towards idea generation.
1) DIVIDE AND WIN
Ask your team to split into two groups and have them work on the same subject or issue in separate rooms. The first group remain silent and solo, writing down their individual ideas. Meanwhile, the second group call out their ideas in typical brainstorm style and record them on a whiteboard.
Let people decide which group they want to be in without worrying about how many are in each one. After around 5 to 15 minutes, the groups talk through the suggestions they have come up with and slot them loosely into themes. Then they choose a representative to go and explain their ideas to the other group.
Repeat this pattern up to three times, allowing anyone who wants to change groups mid-session – either to think quietly or to call out suggestions – to do so. At the end of the session, bring the two groups all together to have an inclusive discussion.
2) SLEEP ON IT
Tap into the power of the semi-conscious brain and the golden space of creativity in the periods just before sleeping and waking. Hold a traditional brainstorming meeting of 30 minutes to an hour. Get the session written up and distributed, both to those who were there and the team members who couldn’t make it. Ask them all to take these notes home to read and let them sink in overnight. In the morning give everyone 15 minutes to write down any ideas that have surfaced and discuss those within the whole group.
3) WALK INTO CREATIVITY
Taking a walk is an excellent way to get your creative juices flowing, particularly if you can get out into nature. When your brain is well-oxygenated and your body is busy, but unchallenged, it’s a prime time for idea to blossom.
Start with a typical brainstorming session for half an hour or so. Then send your team outside to walk alone for anything up to 45 minutes. Bring the group back together to share and discuss.
If you feel that your regular brainstorming is a waste of time, you might be pleasantly surprised by how many great ideas are sparked when you try something new.