12 SIMPLE STEPS TO INCREDIBLY BIG IDEAS
1) Diverge: Use multiple forms of external stimuli to generate a long list of random thoughts, words and feelings. You can find these external stimuli through photo association, scavenger hunts, and line drawings for a few examples.
2) Converge: Provide the guests with a clearly articulated task. Guests should never be given the task in advance, or the “diverge” portion of the process will be compromised. Ask the guests to use the long list of random thoughts, words and feelings as “spring boards” to solve the task at hand. Not everything on the random list of words will work, so just focus on the words that are easily transformed into ideas.
3) All ideas have value: Ensure that everyone shares their thoughts with the rest of the group … no matter how “out there” the idea might seem. There is a reason why things pop into your brain! It also maintains the creative momentum of the group, since other guests will “piggyback” on the idea.
4) Teams: Whenever possible invite enough people to the brainstorming session so that you can create at least a couple of teams. This will increase your creative output while ensuring that everyone is actively participating in the session … plus, a little healthy competition never hurt either!
5) Tension bow: Be extremely cautious of the attention span of your guests. Creative thinking is tiring, hard work. 60 minutes is a practical maximum. Keep things solid and short.
6) Fun = Success! Bring along some toys. Children do most of their learning through playing with toys. When we become adults we often lose touch with that inner child that sees things as brand new and with endless possibilities. Fun is a critical element in the creative process. It is a fact that people are the most creative when they are having fun.
7) Paper: Bring and use lots! Dry erase boards get recycled and ideas can be lost if you use them. Make sure someone is writing down all of the ideas with different colored markers on big sheets of paper, on an easel that is easy to see. This provides the group with visual stimulation for new ideas as well as a record of all of the ideas!
8) The role of physical movement: This is hugely underestimated by most facilitators. It‘s CRUCIAL that you get people “into action”. Let them search for something, do something, but get them OUT of their chairs.
9) Music: Can also help stimulate creativity in a brainstorming session. Use it as often as you can.
10) Enthusiasm: Is a very important ingredient! The facilitator must be the “spark” and the group will follow, and “feed” on the energy.
11) Negativity cramps creativity: Create a “parking lot” on an easel in the corner of the room for use as a catch all for negative thoughts. Anyone who thinks of a reason an idea wont work, must write it on a post it note and stick it in the “parking lot”. Negativity will sabotage creative thinking.
12) Fresh Faces: Always invite new people to the session … particularly if they know nothing about the client. Often the best and most original ideas come from people who can see the task from an unencumbered perspective.