Three Ingredients For A Successful Team Brainstorm

brainstorm recipeYesterday, The Starr Conspiracy team organized a company-wide brainstorm lunch to hack our building's "hominess" and experiential marketing. Fried chicken and mashed potatoes were brought in and 20 or more of us packed into our conference room and threw the most bizarre collection of ideas against the whiteboard to see what we could come up with.

Our team isn't new to brainstorming. This is something we do all the time — every day, in fact — and we have a recipe down for getting it right. There are a lot of different types and styles of brainstorm sessions you could host. But no matter what shade of lipstick you choose for your pig, make sure your brainstorm session has these three essentials.

Trust

We have a wild amount of trust going all directions at The Starr Conspiracy. Employees are trusted to keep perks like flexible schedules and unlimited PTO in balance with getting kick-ass work done every day.

And if we didn't trust each other with crazy, off-the-wall ideas that make us sound a little bit ridiculous until someone else agrees, we wouldn't push the standards of B2B marketing further every day.

Without trust in brainstorming, you'll have a room full of timid, vulnerable people who don't want to feel the sting of an infant idea getting shut down and the fear of looking silly in front of coworkers will outweigh the benefit of contributing to the brainstorm.

Accountability

When a seriously cathartic brainstorm session is finished, people walk away from the room smiling, with energy, and renewed. If a week later, people find out that they went into the creative sanctum to give you an hour's worth of killer ideas that were dead on arrival — you've broken the brainstorm circle of trust.

Those participating in a brainstorm need to be held accountable for either their contributions (can you help own your idea?). Those leadinga brainstorm need to be held accountable for doing something with those insights. Otherwise, why would anyone dig deep for the next brainstorm? Would you?

Structure

Rules are my arch nemesis. Structure makes my skin crawl. And I always thought organization just gets in the way of creativity. But without structure — a prompt start, basic efficiency and desire to stay on point, an organizer — you won't be able to steer creative thought into somewhere productive. No one wants to step up in a lawless pioneer world and be the one to ask everyone to stay productive. Instead, with a designated leader, set topic, start time, agenda, etc. — I hate to say it — your brainstorm session will be far more enjoyable for all those involved. It feels good to be "free" and have no rules. It feels even better to accomplish some cool shit in an hour together.

What about you? Any tips for brainstorming?

IMAGE: Pure Thinking