As we discussed in our previous article, brainstorming doesn’t have to happen face-to-face. A video conference works well too, since the goal is to let participants see non-verbal cues. That being said, offline brainstorming can be fantastic. It can make the discussion more dynamic and interactive. The secret is to make sure the environment is conducive and neutral. Here are 4 ingredients to create the perfect brainstorming location.
Ingredient 1: A neutral and beautiful location
The goal of brainstorming is to find new ideas. So choose a location that will induce creativity. That usually means a place that your participants aren’t familiar with, outside of your office. Make sure the room is big enough to accommodate everyone and has large windows. Bonus if it has tasteful decoration and a beautiful view. Beauty can help stimulate imagination and awareness, creating an ideal mindset for brainstorming. Avoid public spaces where you are not in control of your environment. It could create distractions that impact the effectiveness of the session. Instead, book a room with services such as Breather (US), Carr (US) or Headbox (UK).
Ingredient 2: A pleasant and dynamic atmosphere
Ensure your participants all feel at ease during the session. Provide coffee and snacks to make the atmosphere more casual. Let participants mingle before the session. Regulate the temperature so nobody feels too hot or cold. Finally, make sure the room has a whiteboard and markers available. Participants can use them to draw ideas they have trouble expressing with words.
You can make the environment even more dynamic by adding interactive games for your participants to play. The “Sticky Note + Timer” game is one of the most common ways to create a dynamic creative atmosphere at low cost. Choose a topic or a question, then give your participants 2 minutes to write down as many ideas as possible. They must write one idea per sticky note and then stick it on the wall. To avoid creating too much competition, create teams of 2 or 3 participants to work together. Once the time is over, the facilitator goes to the wall and reads all the ideas to the team. Similar ideas are grouped together and ideas can then be built upon or ranked.
Ingredient 3: A cloud-based agenda
Despite popular belief, the best way to take notes during a brainstorm is online. Before the session, prepare an agenda of all the topics you want to cover in a Google Doc. Share the document with all participants and have it open on a computer during the session.
The exercises and games to generate new ideas can happen offline, such as on a whiteboard or sticky notes. But you should always write the outcome in the Google Doc, under the topic it belongs to. To maximize ownership, don’t assign one person to take notes during the session. Instead, observe conversation dynamics and encourage various team members to do so. For example, if the team is brainstorming a new slogan, and the intern comes up with an idea everyone agrees on, have the intern write it down. You can read more information about how to structure your brainstorming session here.
Ingredient 4: A facilitator
Having the best tools and environment will ensure you get the most of your brainstorming. But not having a facilitator can spoil a good atmosphere in no time. When no one neutral is in the room, participants can become defensive and conversations heated. A facilitator acts as a buffer to ensure you get the most of your brainstorming without hurting team morale. They mediate conflicts to get the best ideas from everyone without creating lasting resentment.
The best facilitators tend to be consultants, outsiders who don’t have skin in the game. Gravitr can help you find the ideal facilitator in your area. They will ensure your session follows all the rules of a successful brainstorming on your behalf. And you can reserve your session in a few clicks on the Gravitr platform. Here is a link to sign up.