4

I saw a headline on Twitter for an article on when a brainstorming session is done. Of course, I clicked on the Twitter link expecting an easy-to-scan list post. And of course, when the article wasn’t (it was a discussion about convergent thinking with no list anywhere to be seen), I lost interest as quickly as it took to click on the link. Before leaving the post, however, I noted a list post on signs a brainstorming session is done would be a great brainstorming blog post.

So . . .

10 Signs You’re Done Brainstorming Ideas

Here are 10 signs I look for when facilitating a brainstorming session to know if it is done. You can tell you’re done with a brainstorming session when:

1. You’ve reached your time limit

Every time The Brainzooming Group facilitates a brainstorming session, we set an expected time limit to make sure there’s intensity to the creative thinking throughout the brainstorming. When we reach the time limit, it may be well time to stop brainstorming. Often though, we add more time to the clock if the group is still doing productive creative thinking.

2. You only have one or two people participating

A rich brainstorming session demands active participation from a diverse group. If most of the group has stopped actively contributing ideas for others to consider, it’s time to take a break and regroup.

3. The pace of new ideas is slowing

In the The Brainzooming Group view, brainstorming is all about getting a large volume of ideas generated in a shorter amount of time than a person would take to do the creative thinking by him or herself. When a brainstorming session slows to a new idea rate that feels like a single person coming up with ideas, you’re done.

4. The group has reached “enough” possible ideas

As with setting a time limit, we’ll usually set an aggressive expectation for how many ideas the group should generate. While we rarely count the exact number of ideas generated, when it seems like they’ve met the number target, it could be time to finish.

5. The “right” answer has appeared

We always apply our own creative thinking before a brainstorming session to anticipate what intriguing ideas might emerge from the group. When the brainstorming group has more than delivered on the expectations, they get to stop.

6. New angles and perspectives aren’t productive

If a particular creative thinking exercise is proving to be its own roadblock to generating new ideas – and trying other creative thinking exercises doesn’t help – it may be best to wait for another day and another group for brainstorming.

7. People get that “look” in their eyes

That “look” can vary – blank stares, glazed over, no eye contact – to name a few. When you start seeing these, it’s clearly time to move on from the brainstorming you’re doing.

8. The brainstorming facilitator gets bored

Yes, facilitators can get bored with brainstorming exercises. If you find your interest wavering, you need to do something different. It may not be quitting, but it may mean taking a break to refresh, regroup, and get ready to try another brainstorming exercise.

9. There’s too much repetition in the ideas

No idea is a bad idea in brainstorming, which means it’s okay if somebody repeats an idea that’s close or exactly the same as an idea someone just said. When this starts happening too often though, it’s a sign your brainstorming exercise is losing its efficiency and effectiveness.

10. Too many ideas are getting too far off target

Again, you’ll hear ideas that are pretty far removed from the brainstorming topic at hand. Sometimes that leads to new and even more fertile paths. If it starts happening too much and the wacky ideas aren’t leading to greater productivity, call it a wrap. – Mike Brown

 

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If you’re struggling to generate and implement new ideas, The Brainzooming Group can be the strategic catalyst you need. We will apply our strategic thinking, innovation, and implementation tools on to help you create greater organizational success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you figure out how to work around your innovation challenges.


Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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6

There’s a story I saw once (which, if you’ll notice, is how most apocryphal stories start) about Salvador Dali where an art patron inquired it were difficult for the famed surrealist painter to paint a picture. Salvador Dali answered, “No, it’s either easy or impossible.”

You can’t deny that it’s a great creativity quote.

Unfortunately, it’s a worthless perspective when you’re on the hook to deliver personal creativity on a consistent basis in a work or organizational situation. Suppose your work-oriented creative effort seems easy to you. If it does, it’s likely the creativity you are producing is ho-hum, at least to you. To the contrary, when your creative effort seems to be an insurmountable challenge to complete, you’re faced with the realization that it’s touch to get any credit for stunning creative thinking that can’t be brought to creative reality.

If the two creative extremes Salvador Dali offered aren’t very good answers, what can you do to move your creative reality somewhere in between? You want to have  strategies to turn both creative extremes into challenging, workable creative successes. Here are four strategies for each creative extreme.

Four Creative Direction Ideas When Creativity Seems Easy

1. Critique Your Creative Successes

Rather than resting on your creative laurels, push yourself to be dramatically stronger creatively. Use what seemed creatively strong from the past, look for small imperfections others would never see, and make creative masterpieces of them! Better integrate them with your strategy, discover more elegant creative simplicity, or find a way to express your extreme creativity in new ways. Pushing yourself to the heights of extreme creativity more than you ever have may be a creative challenge, but will yield creative dividends.

2. Put Yourself on the Extreme Creativity Hook Publicly

You (and by “you,” I probably mean “I”) could be prone to creative sandbagging through deliberately setting expectations at a relatively low, comfortable level you can easily meet without pushing yourself too hard creatively. Forget about taking the path of least creative resistance by sharing an extreme creativity goal – sort of your very own JFK and “Put a man on the moon.”  Sharing an extreme creativity goal with people who will hold you accountable to it clearly puts you on the creative hook. This will demand you embrace extreme creativity as a step toward creative success.

3. Put More Creative Risk into the Mix

Suppose you have all the resources and know everything that’s required to make your creative objective a reality. Decide to deliver your own creative stumbling block by forsaking a major chunk of your creative resources. Slash the time for your creative project by beginning later than expected or agreeing to finish it earlier. If you are part of a creative team working on a project, release one team member to work on another project, pushing the other team members to new extreme creative heights. Driving your effort to the creative extreme will make you develop alternative creative muscles to realize your creative objective.

4. Significantly Modify Your Creative Direction

Bruce Springsteen is a great example of this idea. Although successful with the E Street Band, he altered his  creative direction musically several times – an acoustic, home-recorded solo record, other “solo” records with different supporting musicians, and a completely new band to chronicle songs by Pete Seeger, a legendary folk musician. With every new creative direction, Bruce Springsteen continually avoided “easy” creativity in favor of using unfamiliarity to spur new creative directions.

Four Creative Direction Ideas When Creativity Seems Impossible

1. Lower Your Expectations

If your overall creative task seems daunting, lower your expectations. Look for what smaller parts of the project seems possible amid a total effort which seems impossible. Consider what is the real downside if the entire effort didn’t come to fruition. After identifying workarounds for whatever might be impossible on your project, go all out achieving what is achievable creatively.

2. Put a Creative Project on Hold

Being pressured to be immediately creative can stifle creative abilities. Instead of being pressured to advance directly to implementation, take a time out and actually THINK. Strategize. Brainstorm. Find someone who will add to the creative thinking you’ve done. Take some time to consider something entirely different. Take advantage of a creative pause to let your mind wander where it will, making unconscious creative connections to instigate a fresh creative strategy.

3. Find Implementation Assistance

Maybe your perception of creative impossibility arises  from weaknesses in your personal capabilities. If that’s the case, launch your creative effort by seeking out talents you need to turn the impossible into the possible. Put together the best team to start, generate, and bring what would have been previously daunting creativity to life.

4. Modify Your Creative Game

If the creative task you are facing seems impossible, go ahead and redefine it. Instead of thinking about what the creative activity is, look at what type of goal you’re trying to accomplish instead. Next, look at the whole variety of ways you can accomplish your objective in some other way. Redefining the creative game is often just what’s needed to get into another game you’re much more likely to win creatively.

Use these eight strategies as needed so you can depend on producing outstanding creativity on a daily basis! – Mike Brown

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Taking the No Out of Innovation eBook

Download the free ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to help you generate fantastic ideas! For an organizational creative boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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3

If you find yourself getting into the same negative personal situations again and again, and it never turns out very well, it’s time to ask yourself:

  • Am I really learning from mistakes I’ve made?
  • For whatever reason, am I failing to see my personal role in creating challenges for others in working with me?
  • Have I failed to work on myself in a productive way that leads to changed outcomes in my career or life?
  • If I’m being honest, would I admit I’m more “talk” than “do”?
  • Am I failing to accurately see myself as others see me?
  • Is my sense of timing a problem in that it leads to hesitation when needing to act, spouting off when needing to keep my mouth shut, and passiveness when I should be leaving a situation?
  • Am I going back into similar unsuccessful situations again and again because they feel familiar?

I read these seven questions to someone, whose reaction was, “Wow, those are harsh questions!”

The seven questions may sound harsh, but if you see the same negative patterns repeating in your career, it’s about time to ask yourself some harsh questions. Or even better, ask these questions of someone who knows and can be objective about you and see what that person says. Big personal change is possible – it’s tough, but it is possible.

If you’re in a bad situation, are you ready to work on the real changes you need?  – Mike Brown

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The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at  816-509-5320

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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2

Listening to a radio call in show hosted by Dr. Ray Guarendi, he was talking about following a conversation. It’s not a new concept, but it was for me a new way to describe an idea that many people don’t practice. As Dr. Ray Guarendi describes it, “following a conversation” involves truly listening to another person, and instead of just biding your time until you can take over the conversation to talk about yourself, actually following the other person through the points he or she is making.

Getting better at following a conversation involves:

  • Asking a next question that allows the other person to keep talking on the topic
  • Making an on topic comment directed at the other person’s perspective and not what you think or have done on the topic
  • Giving the other person space (i.e. nods of encouragement and you not jumping in saying something) to keep talking
  • Not expending your mental energy thinking about what you’ll say next
  • Elaborating on something the other person said in the direction of what the person is talking about
  • Turning the conversation toward the other person and away from yourself whenever possible

Again, nothing new on this list – there’s a lot of Dale Carnegie in here (affiliate link) – but think about how much you enjoy talking with someone who does this. And how much you DISLIKE talking with someone who doesn’t follow these practices. I had a phone conversation with a blog reader recently who was a master at this. I was interested in finding out more about him and what he does, but his very earnest and rich questions about The Brainzooming Group made me feel like I was dominating the conversation, although it was in response to his lead.

For whatever reason, Dr. Ray Guarendi’s discussion about following the conversation has me paying a lot more attention to how others do at this, and importantly, how I can personally get better at following a conversation. – Mike Brown

 

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Does your organization have good ideas, but lacks the project management technique to bring them to reality? The Brainzooming Group and our collaborative, implementation-oriented project management techniques will quickly move you toward success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call 816-509-5320  for a free consultation on how to get started.

 

(Affiliate Link)

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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0

It is usually a lot easier at any point on a project team to do something other than doing the strategic, important, or right thing.

Yes, rather than doing, it is a whole lot easier if your project team behavior is:

1. Criticizing
2. Avoiding
3. Forgetting
4. Running away
5. Observing passively
6. Going along without a fuss
7. Not speaking up
8. Imagining
9. Stalling
10. Disappearing
11. Promising what you’ll be doing
12. Not fulfilling your promises
13. Dawdling
14. Ignoring
15. Changing the subject
16. Not looking
17. Not seeing
18. Saying you’re going to do something
19. Getting in someone else’s business
20. Waiting for inspiration
21. Doing the wrong thing
22. Hesitating
23. Waiting for someone to tell you what to do
24. Throwing a fit
25. Repeating anything on this list, perhaps over and over

Do any of the project team behavior choices on this list represent a behavior you would want to be known for among co-workers?

Didn’t think so.

But if you get into the habit of doing these things when  you’re on a project team, it will become the behavior your project team members associate with you.  That’s why, even though it’s the harder behavior, doing something that’s strategic, important, and right is the right thing to do. – Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

Does your organization have good ideas, but lacks the project management technique to bring them to reality? The Brainzooming Group and our collaborative, implementation-oriented project management techniques will quickly move you toward success. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call  816-509-5320  for a free consultation on how to get started.

 

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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2

Today is one of those big wedding anniversaries for Cyndi and me. Because of a client commitment, we’ll spend much of it apart. And because Cyndi hasn’t felt well for several weeks, we haven’t had a chance to celebrate in the weeks before – and may not even get a chance this coming weekend, either.

That might be crushing in some relationships, but I guess we’ve approached our relationship with the need to be flexible because you don’t know what’s going to happen.

So my advice for today when it comes to long-term relationships is based on our experiences. The advice is to not keep score in a relationship. Or if you can’t help yourself from keeping score, at least don’t make decisions or take actions within the relationship based on what you think the score is.

Because the score is always subject to interpretation and change.

And even if you don’t like the score in a relationship you want to last, you have to remember: You’re on the same team. That means you own both sides of the score – individually and together.

That’s my advice for today for creating and sustaining long-term relationships. – Mike Brown

 

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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0

I was watching an HBO documentary on supermodels from the 1940s through the 1990s. The HBO documentary included supermodels sharing perspectives on their careers from earlier days, how they have changed since their prime modeling years, and ideas about what they have learned along the way.

Among various intriguing interviews, Paulina Porizkova spoke about how she viewed herself at the height of her modeling career in her mid-twenties. At the time, she felt her thighs were fat, her knees were ugly, and in general, she did not have good legs. At 45, however, she said she looks back twenty years and thinks she looked great. Now though, she was bemoaning going to the gym 6 days a week only to have everything on her body sagging, with a too large forehead, and a stretchy face. She admitted that at 70 though, she will look back at herself at 45 and probably think she looked great in her mid-forties.

Now to me and just about anyone else, Paulina Porizkova looked fabulous in her twenties and still looks incredible today.

So how can an objectively beautiful woman such as Paulina Porizkova have such mistaken perspectives when it comes to judging how she looks?

Paulina Porizkova cannot assess how she really looks for the same reason it is so difficult for any of us to objectively judge our situations and provide the best ideas to ourselves about what we should do. Yet how many business people cling doggedly to the idea that they (or at least only the people already within their organizations) know everything there is to know about their situations and do not need outside help assessing things or helping devise new, more successful ideas?

6 Vital Insights Outsider Perspectives Offer

If you are one of those people who does not want outside help, here are six reasons you’re missing vital insights by not seeking outsider perspectives:

  • Your internal voice will not give you objective insights on your situation.
  • Even if you know you don’t know everything, you don’t know what you don’t know.
  • You have no diversity of mindset, knowledge, or experience relative to yourself.
  • You can’t objectively assess what your strengths and weaknesses are by yourself.
  • You are either too bold or too reticent to provide ideas for yourself with the right degree of urgency and intensity.
  • You would have to be excellent at all of these: assessing your situation, determining the right steps to take, AND then taking the steps. Good luck.

It is so much easier to provide vital insights to other people on what to improve than it is to do the same for yourself. While the Brainzooming Group provides many outsider perspectives on strategy to clients across a variety of industries, I am always interested in hearing what insights others in our strategic circle have about opportunities for The Brainzooming Group. Trust me, an outsider can see, process, and speak with a clarity it is nearly impossible for an insider to muster.

If you are ready to give up on excluding outsider perspectives on your strategy, give us a call at 816-509-5320 or email us. The Brainzooming Group would love to provide the objective, outsider perspectives and ideas you are missing! – Mike Brown

 

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

 

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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