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By PASCAL FINETTE

The Heretic is a free dispatch delivering insights into what it takes to lead into & in the unknown. For entrepreneurs, corporate irritants and change makers. Raw, unfiltered and opinionated.

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Jun 13th, 2022 Share: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

The Simple Secret To Running a Productive Brainstorm

You know the scene: A group of people, excitedly, storms into a meeting room, whiteboard markers in hand, to start a “brainstorm”.

{brainstorm} : to try to solve a problem or come up with new ideas by having a discussion that includes all members of a group : to discuss a problem or issue and suggest solutions and ideas

And of course, it never works. Rather than getting the best ideas and insights from every member of the group, you end up with a few people dominating the discussion. Inevitably, one person jumps up, stands in front of the whiteboard, wielding their whiteboard marker like Luke Skywalker his lightsaber, talking at everyone else.

Brainstorms are a shitshow. They are also easily fixed.

Start every brainstorm with a three-minute silent ideation session: Upon the group entering the sacred meeting space, clearly define and articulate the problem space through a focal question. Then have everyone pick a stack of PostIts and write down as many possible ideas you have to solve for the focal question in three minutes of total silence. One idea per PostIt. No judgement, no filtering. Quantity over quality.

By the end of the three minutes, each person should have at least ten ideas (and thus PostIts) out on the table. Do this with 5-8 people, and you get 50-80 ideas — in three minutes. Then spend the rest of your brainstorm time to cluster and discuss the suggestions.

Why do this? Simple: You get the ideas from everybody in the room — unfiltered, raw, and without being influenced by the loudest person in the room.

Why three minutes? Simple again: You will find that in the first minute your ideas are flowing, the second minute they will slow down, and in your third minute they will start to slow to a trickle. Go any longer, and you start censoring and editing your ideas.

Try it out in your next “brainstorm” — you will be surprised how well this works.


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