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Memories of group brainstorming activities might include the same old people shouting out the same tired idea, week after week. Are the shouters the only ones with thoughts, or are the impassive withholding ideas for various reasons?
Here are insights into why people keep their lips sealed during group ideation, and how to get them to share. You will be surprised what former non-participants contribute with just a little confidence and priming.
People resent being invited to disorganized functions, even if they’re required to attend for work. Make sure your brainstorming presentation is professional.
Some team members will panic and dread the meeting if they know they have to speak, so you could invite them to submit ideas via email at this point. Clearly state that whoever submits ideas in advance will not be called on at the meeting.
Find an office environment that feels cozy for the event. If you make the brainstorming sessions fun and comfortable, people will look forward to them and relax, which will open their minds. Here are specific ideas that could help:
For cliques that don’t participate or focus, try choosing their alpha friend to be the new session leader; not only would that break up the clique, but it would also make the remaining non-participators very interested in what happens. If your PowerPoint outline is well-organized, anyone should be able to take over the session at any point.
Also, try to choose an easy number of topics to brainstorm each meeting. Three clients or topics is a good starting point for most people (it will also reduce the amount of past idea review required of the team).
Whether your suggestion box is virtual or physical, make sure the team knows about it. Quieter team members will be more comfortable submitting ideas this way. However, if you find that people are abusing the suggestion box by submitting jokes or unrelated material, move it to a digital platform so that it’s tracked.
All of these ideas are useful in creating a great environment for ideas to flow, but it only works if you keep your word. Remember to stay within the allotted time frame, only call on those who don’t submit via email, and NEVER roll your eyes.
While this is all good and helpful, you might be wondering what’s next. For ideas on how to create a fun and energetic presentation for your next ideation session, check out next week’s blog Make Ideation a Game Everyone Wins in 3 Steps.
Thanks for reading!