A creative session or brainstorm should be the opposite of ‘ the untrained leading the unwilling to do the unnecessary’.
Sadly this is not always the case.
Here at Now Go Create we come across many businesses that seem to think that an unprepared gathering of individuals called into a room plied with sweets and treats is enough to get the ideas flowing. It isn’t. This is not a brainstorm this is an unprepared meeting without a clear agenda!
The verb to facilitate means to ‘make easy’ and the facilitator needs to offer well structured activities in advance of the session. Standing up and ad-libbing at the front with a flip chart is not going to cut it. Here are 5 tips to facilitating a great session:
1. All sessions should aim to be productive, provide actionable ideas and be fun. All three of these things are essential, one or two are not enough!
2. You need to be able to articulate your challenge in a one liner, even better in one word. For example, we want to drive more people into our stores, could be summarised into footfall, desire, urgency, need. Choose a word that has momentum and feels ‘juicy.’
3. As a facilitator you must pay ATTENTION. Actively listen with interest, respect, curiosity and don’t interrupt! Above all if you a are the scribe write EVERYTHING down. If you judge as the ideas are being born then you signal to the group that you’re in charge of evaluating the ideas without giving them any room to breathe. You may also dent people’s confidence unwittingly. Not great.
4. Have you heard about the 5:1 ratio of appreciation to criticism? As a facilitator it’s your role to moderate not to judge (see above) but if you do judge be aware you should praise 5 times more often!
5. Welcome diversity in people and thinking styles. Don’t go for the usual suspects in a brainstorm session – add quality of thinking and celebrate differences – it will add an edge to your ideas. Think about a wildcard, scrap hierarchy and encourage wild ideas.
Bring introverts along in the process – see our blog on this topic specifically here. If you’re interested in finding out more about how to become a brilliant brainstorm facilitator see our course here. See also our free tools section here.