As a leader, one must have the ability to direct and guide through demonstration and most importantly, adapt to changes by understanding the need of the team. An individual just can’t constantly keep thinking on new ideas alone. That is not the way forward for a leader as well because, our knowledge is based on our experiences we had as individuals. Our experiences need not and sometimes, will never be the same as that of others.
Then how do you expect to lead?
One of the most frequently used ways by leaders is the brainstorming. During a brainstorming, the group thinks out loud, contradicts others’ opinions and builds for the needs of the majority. You can excellently bring out innovation out of the not-so innovative method.
But nothing like old times right?
Just like how a child gets excited with lego, I got eccentric when I heard that I was going to be part of small group of highly talented individuals to work on building something very exciting for the youth of this nation. The excitement was so high that I could not sleep.
Never did I know that building something of high value takes time and the brainstorming would be 14 hours long! It was a surprise and I so badly blamed myself for not sleeping well. As a first timer for such a long brainstorming and as the youngest in the group these are the things I did to never get tired and to constantly be involved throughout the 14 hours.
1 – Be prepared before it even starts. It helps a lot when you are always prepared in advance, be it for anything. This ensures that there will be more knowledge sharing. Exchanges through knowledge sharing are like building blocks. The more you have the higher the tower you can build.
“To be prepared is half the victory” – Miguel De Cervantes
It is always good to put forth a questionnaire to the group that will be involved in the brainstorming before the meet. The questions can revolve around what is expected out of the meet and the outcomes of the brainstorming. Every individual of the group must take time and fill out the questionnaire.
2 – Do not follow the herd. Now if you’re brainstorming for solutions and by chance if they already exist, it just does not make sense for wasting the time and energy of the group. This is where filling out the questionnaire helps as well.
“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” – George S. Patton Jr.
However while filling out the questionnaire, one will have to read a lot. While doing so, you are bound to come across things that google already knows. That is fine, but that should not become the base on which you build your needed outcome. You could keep them as guiders though.
Comparison and perfectionism will not lead to uniqueness and growth. By being original, you can create something more beautiful.
3 – Be open minded and doubt everything. Being open minded is absolutely vital. Because every individual has to doubt each other’s suggestions. By being open minded, you will be able to refine what ever it is you are expecting out of the brainstorming.
“A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.” – Frank Zappa
Also when you doubt the others’ comments, knowledge sharing and exchanges will increase, hence clarity will come in. Ultimately, stronger the outcome, the more effective the brainstorming will be.
4 – Be sensitive, not judgemental. When I said to doubt everything, I meant to be sensitive and not judgmental. Judgemental doubting will include out-right repression or negligence of suggestions given by your team mates. This is not progressive leading. Instead, if you try understanding the reason and purpose behind the suggestion, you will be able to give better outcomes.
Revolve your questions with a lot of how to make this better/what is your opinion/please share the experience/please explain with examples…rather than that is impossible and can’t be done/no, NO, and NOOO.
5 – Agenda helps. An agenda before the start of the session will make sure there are no deviations from the purpose of the meet and that the outcome of the meet is reached. At the start of the brainstorming, write down all the expectations on the outcomes and then proceed with the brainstorming.
These 5 points can be for however long you want your brainstorming to be. One hour or 14 hours, it does not matter, the format and outline is same.
Do make sure you take short and frequent breaks during the brainstorming to re-energise yourself. While the brainstorming is on, keep all distractions away. Everyone’s attention and presence, physically and mentally is needed for getting the most out of the session.
Last but not the least, how did I forget! Food to munch and coffee is the fuel for the long ride.
At the end of the session, you will realise how productive you have spent the time and if done properly, you will be with the same energy you started off the session with. The eagerness and contentment will make sure you don’t go back to sleep.