Innovating the traditional brainstorming
Think for a moment about your most successful and innovative ideas, when you felt really excited. What did you typically do? What did you say? How did this sense of confidence improve your performance? The human brain is designed in a way that every great idea you may have stimulates the desire to do more and better. You feel an extraordinary confidence and indeed you gradually become better and better. It’s a very simple equation - the more unbeaten you feel the better you perform. I found this interesting so I began thinking how can we stimulate this feeling of confidence during a brainstorming session.
We have all participated in some classic brainstorming sessions where you spontaneously say or write down ideas, you structure them and the most successful ones are implemented. The methods that you use to generate ideas can make a huge difference because in order to find a suitable solution you need different approaches to the existing problem. Karen Littman the CEO of Morphonix (a company developing neuroscience video-games) says: "If possible, don’t put people around the conference table“ instead give unlimited freedom. Hence the people should feel confident, completely free and yet at the same time the ideas should be generated spontaneously.
I designed a method that combines all the above things and makes brainstorming even more interactive. In order to apply this you need a tennis or a soccer table – something that most innovative companies already have in their play yard. And this method is ridiculously fun because you can innovate or invent the next big thing by playing soccer or playing pin pong.
How does it work?
State the question or the problem you want to solve and write it on a white board visible to everyone. Bring your team together, put the most creative people into teams of two/four and let them play table soccer or pin pong. It is important to create some competition in the atmosphere so the rest of the team should encourage the players. After each goal, the people who score should spontaneously come up with a solution to the problem you are trying to solve – usually in the first 3 seconds after scoring to avoid skepticism. Someone should be responsible for taking notes and making them visible on the board (you can alternatively use a projector and instantly create a mind map). Repeat this exercise a few times with different people and you will be astonished by the results.
The trick here is that deep inside people already have a feeling about the answer, but the hesitation that they typically would experience is because of the fear to fail. So by playing a game the main focus is shifted towards winning but not coming up with the best solution. This eliminates the fear and the influence of the rational part of the brain that usually blocks everything that is uncommon. Hence the best ideas are the abstract ones and it is your goal as a manager to create an environment where even the craziest thoughts are not denied.
It is essential that only the people who score, spontaneously claim their idea, because their level of happiness and confidence is very high. Additionally the more intense is the competition the better are the results.
This method allows people to compete on the physical level in order to feel more confident and energetic, and yet at the same time eliminates any fear of failure. It also enhances the abstractness by limiting the time for rational thinking. So if you develop games or want to create an incredible story or an animated movie, you need great names, a lot of characters and thousands of details. This brainstorming technique will help you to explore some places where you have never gone before and it will reveal the genius in your team.
Thank you for reading, please let me know about your opinion and how successful have you been implementing this.