You know the feeling: it follows the announcement that 'we're having a brainstorming meeting.' Call it dread, dysphoria, or drudgery. What it isn't, and what has been beaten out of you and your colleagues or smothered in numerous previous sessions is enthusiasm, anticipation and a sense of 'anything is possible' when challenged by a brain-storming session.
If you're like me, you've been in too many sessions where the editing is fierce, the conversation is dominated by the leader/manager, most people are clearly self-censoring (that's if they are engaged at all) and, worst of all, you never see the results go anywhere. Bob Sutton writes up some tips for brain-storming to pass around your office. Here's one:
A good brainstorming session is competitive—in the right way. In the best brainstorms, people feel pressure to show off what they know and how skilled they are at building on others' ideas. But people are also competitive in a paradoxical way. They "compete" to get everyone else to contribute, to make everyone feel like part of the group, and to treat everyone as collaborators toward a common goal. The worst thing a manager can do is set up the session as an "I win, you lose" game, in which ideas are explicitly rated, ranked, and rewarded.
We all pay homage to research and evidence bases for our work and audience insights to drive program development. But it is the creativity brain-storming can foster that inspires our staff, partners and audiences to do their best when engaging in social marketing and social change programs. Learn to unleash it.