Having a Brainstorming Meeting? How to Get the Creative Juices Flowing

March 24, 2016 Blog 0 Comments

It can be an excruciating experience–the infamous brainstorming meeting where all of the ideas just dry up, and the group seems suspended in a state of head-scratching and awkward silence. When creativity is stagnant and new ideas seem to be in short supply, what can you do to get your team back into the swing of things? Below are three helpful activities you can try to get the creative juices flowing once again.

1. Discuss what NOT to do

This may seem a little counter-intuitive at first, but many times you can come up with fantastic solutions to problems by thinking about the results that you don’t want. For example, what are some things that could garner horrible customer reviews, or some decisions that would produce an “epic fail” for your business? What would cause your current clients to abandon ship, or prospective clients to avoid your business like the plague? When you put the spotlight on the “don’ts,” it can bring the “dos” into much clearer focus.

2. Try “Brainwriting”

Brainwriting, a term coined by Professor Paul Paulus of the University of Texas at Arlington, takes a unique approach to the process of brainstorming. Research has shown that brainstorming sessions tend to favor the first ideas that are discussed, which means that ideas that are brought up later in the meeting often do not receive equal consideration. Not only that, but in the average brainstorming session, only a handful of people do 60-75% of the talking.

Brainwriting adopts a “write first, discuss later” approach, where each participant writes down their ideas on paper before the meeting starts, and then each note is posted on a board with no names attached. The team will then vote on the best ideas, which then become the main topics of discussion.

3. Make collaboration a habit

Many times staff members will have a hard time brainstorming because they rarely practice any type of collaborative activities outside of the meeting room. Regularly employ team-building exercises that will encourage each member of the group to collaborate with their fellow staff members on a regular basis.

There are dozens of excellent team-building exercises you can use, but one great example is to take your group to an escape room experience. In this real-life adventure game, team members are locked in a themed room, and must solve a series of riddles and puzzles using objects in the room in order to find the key that will unlock the door before the 60-minute time limit runs out.

For example, Cincinnati escape room Houdini’s Room Escape provides three different themed rooms (The Tower, The Lab and Houdini’s Game Room) that require participants to work together in order to earn their freedom.

Interestingly enough, although an escape room is a form of “controlled chaos,” there’s an almost ironic sense of clarity your team can achieve while participating in the challenge. They’ll become so focused on solving the singular problem of finding the key that they are able to employ critical thinking and problem-solving skills on a heightened level, which can carry over into a brainstorming session held immediately after in Houdini’s event/meeting space.

Whether you choose an escape room or some other type of team-building exercise, make sure that the activity requires communication, interaction and teamwork, so that you can begin to develop the habit of collaboration among your group members