Brainstorming’s Unwritten Rule

September 10, 2010 § 2 Comments

Today in our Collaborative Action Studio the first-year students were re-introduced to “brainstorming,” one of many techniques for ideation (generating ideas) before going through a session led by an experienced facilitator. Second-year students were encouraged to sabotage the experience or to exhibit negative brainstorming behavior as an example of how unproductive or uncomfortable the sessions become when executed poorly (I think the new students figured it out quickly… smart bunch). Before and after the session we talked about how to properly facilitate a brainstorming session and the errors that were exhibited.

It had been a few months since I had facilitated brainstorming or ideation and just this morning before class I had gathered a group of students to ideate on a meeting that we will be hosting. Later in the day when we reviewed best practices for ideation facilitation I realized how rusty I had become in just a short time without practice. Brainstorming seems easy to execute but in reality, leading a productive, engaging and successful session takes a lot of skill and awareness. Reviewing the rules and tips was a nice refresher and reminded me that I need to reflect upon and review core skills such as these on occasion.

There is one rule however that you will not find in any as yet published ideation guides. Fortunately I am here to share it with you:Quite simply, make sure your pants are zipped. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I had violated this cardinal rule while leading my session earlier in the day. In all honesty the odds are good that I will make this mistake again; but there is no need for you to follow in my steps. Avoid ego assassination and check your fly before stepping in front of a group of people ready to shout out anything that comes to mind.

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