Begin your brainstorm by listening...
Most people have ideas. Most of them think their idea is a good idea. If you invite them to a brainstorming session, they will bring that idea. The problem is, they cannot hear anything else until they have shared that idea.
Everyone knows the topic of a brainstorming session before it begins. Which means most of them have been thinking about it before they arrived. This is great, you want everyone bringing insights into the room. It also means they are coming into the session with ideas in their head.
Insider tip: They are focused on these ideas and nothing else. Because like most people, they think their ideas are good ideas. Their ability to participate and think bigger is limited by the idea that they have in their head. Their focus is on finding the right opportunity to share their great idea. It is limiting to them and the whole brainstorming session. They need to get that idea out!
Over the years I have found that the best way to deal with this is to make space at the beginning of the brainstorming session to let individuals share their ideas. The first activity I always include in a brainstorm is to let everyone share the ideas that they brought into the room. Make it a structured activity. Make it fun. Capture the ideas and use them as a launching point for the rest of the session. You might as well do this at the beginning because they are not listening to you until you free them of their ideas.
By allowing the space for this several things occur:
They get to see that their idea matters and is valued
It sets the tone that everyone will be heard during the session
Their focus shifts away from their idea and onto the activities in the room
It enables them to think bigger than the idea they brought with them
Collaboration goes up as does a willingness to build on another person’s idea
It does not matter if the best idea of the day is one someone brought into the room or one that was thought up during the brainstorm. What matters is that you got the best ideas out of everyone and pushed everyone to think bigger than they thought possible.
Good ideas are out there, you just need to find them!
If you are interested in bringing better ideas to life this year, let’s chat.