Article written by Kristina Drury – founder of TYTHEdesign
In early January I was invited to teach an interactive design thinking workshop for ‘The Center for Leadership Innovation‘ (TCLI) 2012 National Summit in New Orleans. TCLI is an organization that serves communities through leadership training. During the event, I learned a lot about the frustrations a lot of executives share when leading their team through these kinds of exercises so I came up with sometips I that can help everyone looking for a productive brainstorming session. Here they are:
1. Pick a person to be the facilitator. This person will lead the group through the activity. Remember that the role of the facilitator is to keep the ideas flowing, not stir the conversation. The facilitator doesn’t have to be the project lead; it could be a team member, which is a great way to empower your team.
2. Before starting, briefly introduce the challenge you are working on. Providing handouts with the needs and the overall goal for the session. If possible, post the handout so everyone can see it. This way the team will stay focused.
3. If it’s a large group, divide them up into smaller sub groups. This gives everyone the opportunity to be heard and it might allow for more ideas to be building simultaneously.
4. Start the activity by asking your team to take a few minutes and write down their first ideas before starting as a group. This makes sure that everyone gets heard right away.
5. Set ground rules with your team. Ask everyone to defer judgments; there are no bad ideas at this point. There will be plenty of time to narrow ideas down later. As a facilitator if you notice a team discussing the ideas or talking through the details, encourage them to put the idea out there and move on.
6. Ask that there be only one conversation at a time. This allows each participant to be heard. As a facilitator, if you notice one person putting out most of the ideas, ask them to allow others space to share.
7. This should be fun, make sure to encourage wild ideas. Even if an idea doesn’t seem realistic, it may spark a great idea for someone else.
8. Draw your ideas; don’t just have them write them down. Sometimes stick figures and simple sketches can say more than words.
8.Be realistic. Your team can only come up with ideas for a short amount of time. Limit the whole process to 10-20minutes. This keeps your team engaged and will end on a high note.
KRISTINA DRURY is an expert in design thinking and the Executive Director of TYTHEdesign, a consultancy serving the social sector based in New York City. TYTHEdesign uses design-based approaches to support the goals and needs of agencies in the social sector, drawing on communication and organizational design to increase the impact of their work. Feel free to contact her if you have questions at all! She’s here to help.
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