We use a digital kitchen timer extensively in planning sessions, setting time constraints for our exercises. While people may grumble at first, they usually come to appreciate the efficiencies a timer creates. What are the advantages to time constraining strategy generation or ideation? Using a kitchen timer:
- Shows people that you value their time – setting a time limit helps you get what you want done promptly, thus avoiding running late or coming up short relative to your session objectives.
- Creates a sense of urgency – a time constraint and an aggressive goal on the number of ideas identified creates healthy pressure to generate, and not debate, new ideas.
- Sets up the opportunity to look at a situation in multiple ways – it’s much more productive to divide 28 minutes into four different 7-minute exercises than a single effort. Doing so allows you to vary the perspectives from which you’re addressing your challenge, yielding a stronger set of possibilities.
- Forces decisions during an evaluation phase – even if you’re discussing ideas to be prioritized, timing the activity precludes endless, unproductive debate that won’t materially change the group’s outcomes.
So here’s to the basic, digital kitchen timer coming out from the shadows to gain its rightful place as a strategic planning tool. I’ve got mine babe!*