One of the main points of the Modern Meeting is show you what is or isn’t a meeting. Brainstorming is not a meeting. Brainstorming works alongside the Modern Meeting. It works alongside a decision. The Modern Meeting focuses on the decision. Brainstorming focuses the creation of possibilities, which is something that is killed during a meeting. The goal is to go to place place where people are free to show their creativity, a place where there everyday combativeness of most corporate meeting is put to rest and people feel safe.
A problem with brainstorming is that if the topic deals directly with you’re work, the less effective you’ll be at creativity around the problem. It’s good to have some outside or new people involved with the sessions because they won’t be restrained by their prior knowledge or ownership on the matter.
Check out IDEO, which Al refers to as one of the most creative and innovative firms in the world. They also believe that brainstorming is a completely different task then most of the things that normally take place inside conference rooms.
Here are the ground rules for brainstorming from, Read This Before Our Next Meeting:
- Let’s invite people who are passionate about the idea. A passionate intern is better than a disinterested executive.
- Let’s praise liberally. No criticism, not even evaluation. This is not a regular meeting. If it turns into one, then we have failed. Let’s make sure that the measured output of the meeting is the breadth and quantity of ideas.
- Let’s number our ideas. IDEO head Tom Kelly recommends deciding how many ideas you want to have and then shooting for that number. This method forces people to let go of their filters in service of meeting the target number of ideas.
- Let’s use a timer. It’s toward the very end that people start flinging up last-minute ideas to meet the mark. Perversely, tension helps us overcome fear.
- Let’s have fun. (Most of us have forgotten how to have fun at work.)
- Let’s get active. Encourage people to stand up, walk around the room. In fact, get out of the room. Brainstorming always works better in a place reserved for just that. If the room is the very same place where you got excoriated for a lousy quarter, it’s hard to feel confident.
- Let’s have a clear focus. Make sure the brainstorm is free, but not a free-for-all. The ideas should be targeted in the direction of the problem at hand. Create a clear problem statement and make sure people are on task.
- Let’s have a strong facilitator (or an expert). The cost of even the best brainstorming expert is tiny compared to the benefit you’ll get and the time you’ll save. In addition, an external voice can change the tone in the room more easily than you can.
- Let’s not invite the boss or the VP of No into the room. You have to make the environment feel safe for people to suggest ideas that are risky, even controversial. If there is a key leader who is clearly holding the session back, that person needs to go.
- Let’s write it all down. A non-participant should chronicle everything, even the silly stuff.
This blog post is from the Seven Principles of Modern Meetings which can be found in this great book:
Pittampalli, Al (2011-08-03). Read This Before Our Next Meeting (p. 40). AmazonEncore. Kindle Edition.