In this post, I’m going to dabble a little bit in amateur psychology and physiology. While your team never wants you to realize it, they are actually just human beings (as opposed to being super-heroes). If you take this fact into account, you can make a good brainstorming session into a great one.
- Encourage your team to stand up an walk around – your brain needs oxygen so get your body moving to feed your brain.
- Keep the environment dynamic – open windows, shift the table set up after lunch, don’t let it get too warm.
- Try a walking session – pick a section on your agenda and take your team for a walk while they continue brainstorming.
- Sleep on it – I’ve run countless brainstorming sessions and the ones that span one or even two nights almost always work best. As I said in an earlier post, sleep is a turbo-powered way for your brain to digest, correlate and re-connect all the previous day’s discussions.
- Snacks during breaks – the only thing more distracting than your colleague’s growling stomach is your own distracting hunger. Put out snacks and drinks during breaks, especially the kind that keep people from getting tired or run down. My favorite is popcorn.
- Don’t have too much fun – team dinners can be really fun. Barriers get broken down. People lighten up and blow off steam. Trust builds naturally. But, if the dinner and post-dinner events become really, really fun <grin>, the next morning’s sessions might be a bit unproductive. Make sure everyone knows how much you value a good night’s sleep.
The best brainstorming sessions occur when your team is able to take their thinking in new, creative directions. Your job is not just to create the structure and goals but to make sure each member of the team can do their very best work.
Here are all the parts in my brainstorming series: Part 1: Rules of Engagement, Part 1B: Five Rules, Part 2: Organizing Creativity, Part 3: Rev up the Creativity Engine and Part 4: Tools and Techniques.