||It's Time For Plan B:
Our workgroup was in the middle of a spirited brainstorming session — a free form session where creativity is encouraged, judgment is suspended, and the best ideas often come after ten or more minutes. The ideas were flying fast and furious, as they should, when the group gets momentum. The energy was intoxicating. And, in a fit of inspiration, I one employee suggested, "Why don't we reverse the order of the deliverables!?"
While nine other people energetically accepted this offer as worthy of inclusion on their flip chart of ideas, their manager scowled "That will never work!"
Thus ended a productive brainstorming session. Sadly, the manager was unclear on the concept at play. She replaced a brainstorm with a brain fart and stunk up the entire process.
A Different Kind of Collaboration
Brainstorming is a special type of meeting, with its own ground rules, tempo and ethos. It's also an invaluable tool for idea generation, problem solving, innovation, teambuilding and creativity. Whether you are tasked with creating new sales contests, new strategic initiatives or simply trying to break the doldrums of your day-to-day routines, brainstorming carries the day.
Rules That Rock!
By definition, brainstorming is unlike your typical meetings. Its unbounded by traditional rules where pre-determined people speak on pre-determined subjects for prescribed times. Like a jam session of Jazz musicians, all you need to do is begin recording and let the sounds begin. Remember, the key is to record it all. Later you can go back and edit out that which might not be considered beautiful music.
In Brainstorming sessions everyone is equal, all ideas are worthy of consideration, all judgment is suspended and a person's rank or status is irrelevant. The goal is to fill the air with ideas, depart from conventional thinking, and allow the smorgasbord of strategies, ideas, inspirations and epiphanies to cross-pollinate each other. Think of brainstorming meetings as magnificent melting pots, a veritable giant stew bowl where bouillabaisse bubbles and bursts, unleashing new, exciting and innovative initiatives. Consider a skilled facilitator for best results, though this isn't a requirement.
The B-List: Preparing for Your Meeting
The following recommendations will insure a successful session, whether it's a stand-alone brainstorm or part of a larger meeting or event:
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