A GUIDE TO THE ULTIMATE BRAINSTORM
JOHN SWEENEY HAS BEEN changing human behaviour across the globe for 15 years. A master of improvisational insights and innovation, he shares with us his simple tips to help your team come up with some great new ideas.
WE’VE ALL been there. The business is going in a new direction and you need to think of ideas to support it, or maybe you have a client demanding a fresh approach and so a time and date are set; it’s brainstorming time.
You and the team sit in a room armed with pens and paper, but the ideas just aren’t flowing. It’s awkwardly silent. Nobody feels comfortable speaking out and the mounting pressure is making everyone feel stressed.
In these situations it can be all too easy to give up and declare you just aren’t that creative, but resist that temptation. In all my years facilitating innovation sessions for all kinds of businesses, and inspiring people to exhibit the behaviours of innovation, I’ve found a few very simple tweaks to the brainstorming process can elicit incredible results.
GIVE THESE EASY TIPS A TRY
1. Choose a physical space outside the typical workspace; a change of environment helps the mind migrate away from ‘same old, same old’ ideas.
2. Send out some pre-brainstorm information that allows the participants to know both the behavioural guidelines and the purpose of the session.
3. Ask participants a topic they would like to brainstorm as a way to give back; for example, ten ideas of fun things to do that weekend.
4. Make sure the room set-up is comfortable, flexible and has several seating options.
5. Even if you are only brainstorming one topic, split it up into several sub-topics or buckets to fill.
6. Quantify the number of ideas for topics as your goal; for example, 50 new product names or 75 new marketing ideas.
7. Music and sunlight (if possible), especially at the beginning of the session, will stimulate the mood and the physical presence of your team.
8. Choose a brief physical activity to get the participants’ blood flowing.
9. Begin with a non-business topic to start the energy flow and demonstrate the rules. For example, 50 things to do at a children’s birthday party that would make it the best party ever.
10. Let the participants know that volume and quantity trump quality at this stage of the innovation process—we’re not looking for the best idea; we’re just looking for the next idea.
11. Continue to throw in unrelated and fun topics.
12. Include palate-cleansing coaching suggestions like ‘Ten things that would get us all fired’ or ‘Ten ideas that our customers would hate’. These will help stretch your brain into areas it would not typically go.
13. Find several ways to collect ideas and give each participant several options. For example, verbalise ideas, write them down on a note-card, whiteboard your ideas, come up with ideas as a team or spend your time alone in quiet. Everyone has the ability to think and behave innovatively. More often than not it’s our mindset that stifles us. Put these steps into practice and I guarantee you will be innovatively fighting fit in no time!
WE’RE NOT LOOKING FOR THE BEST IDEA; WE’RE JUST LOOKING FOR THE NEXT IDEA.