It is easy to envision a successful brainstorming session. Unfortunately, bringing creative people together in one room is not a magic formula that automatically leads to innovative ideas and solutions. To bring your brainstorming vision to life you must acknowledge that idea generation is an in-depth creative process that can involve a lot of individual work.
The human brain is like a cocoon for ideas. Inside, they are given time to grow and they are protected. You devote time to nurture, analyze and tweak ideas until they are perfect. The ‘lightbulb moment’ actually comes toward the end of creative process. It is the point when your idea comes together, makes sense and is ready to be shared. But, once you release an idea from your brain, it will be at the mercy of the group!
Effective group icebreakers relieve the tension in the room at large, but you still need to overcome your own fears, doubts and uncertainties. An individual icebreaker can help. One such exercise, from Michael Michalko’s book “Tinkertoys”, is called Tick-Tock. Before any brainstorming or collaboration session, confront your negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts. The tick is the negative thought and the tock is its positive counterpart.
Tick: My idea is way too risky. My boss will never go for it.
Tock: In business, risk takers are admired. Even if the idea is rejected, people will respect my creativity and out of the box thinking.
Everyone in the room can do this on a scrap piece of paper before you actually begin brainstorming. Because it is an individual exercise, no one has to share the tick-tocks they come up with and people can feel safe about being completely honest with themselves. The benefit in writing the tick-tock down is that each person now has their note to glance at to help relieve any stress about an idea that may pop back up as the meeting goes on.
Simple individual icebreakers like this can also be done alone at your desk before attending a brainstorming session. It helps to eliminate self-defeating strategies from your creative process, and instead enables you to feel more confident about your ideas. This confidence will also allow you to be more open to constructive criticism. Your ideas will no longer be at the “the mercy of the group” so much as they will be benefiting from “the help of the group.”
Quartet has a number of communication and collaboration tools that can facilitate a successful brainstorming session including digital flipcharts, whiteboards and bulletin boards.