You are joined together for a morning brainstorming session with your colleagues. Dialogue is open. Coffee is encouraged. And then a light bulb goes off. The idea is on the tip of your tongue, but instead of spitting it out you stop dead in your tracks. Your mind is whirling and you attempt to predict – will they think my idea is stupid or stupendous? We’ve all been there.
More and more in my professional life I see that the brightest leaders are constantly throwing wild ideas at the wall to see what sticks. It’s like playing darts, there are some that bounce off the wall and land with the dead flies and dust balls on the cement floor, but there are a couple that land in the bull’s-eye. So how can we create an environment in our business or workplace where new ideas are encouraged and celebrated? Here are a few thoughts to get started:
1. Put aside fear of failure. Don’t be afraid to have your idea shot down – you’re not getting dumped, and no one has died. This is one small meeting in the grand scheme of things.
2. Come prepared. Carry out your own 15 minute personal brainstorming session before the larger group meets.
3. Quantity often leads to quality. The more ideas the merrier – lots of ideas often lead to a quality end-game message.
4. Listen well. Be an equal-opportunity listener and idea person.
5. Be a stimulator. Your idea may not be the game-changer, but it could spur another great idea or concept from a peer.
6. Have fun. Humor, food and beverages are encouraged!
How does YOUR organization cultivate a successful brainstorming session?