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How to get brilliant ideas from your team

If we’re friends on Facebook, you might have seen my recent news — I was elected President of my local Rotary Organization! It is such an honor, and I am so pleased to serve in this way.

We have some great speakers come to our meetings and recently, we had a speaker come in and talk about effective brainstorming.

Why is this so important? Businesses and organizations are always in need of creative ideas for reaching more people, and inciting interest in your community. By creating an atmosphere that facilitates effective brainstorming, your staff will be able to provide you with those priceless insights.

The speaker used the symbol of a stoplight: green light, red light, yellow light. At different points during the session, he was talking about how and when you should use each of the lights.

For example, when you’re brainstorming and everyone is chipping in, he shared how important it is as a facilitator to not filter anything or make snarky comments. This means not putting down anyone’s ideas, or self-filtering your own.

Your role is to give the “green light” and allow everyone to “brain dump” their ideas.

Yellow lights are limiting remarks — comments that stifle others’ creativity. For example, I made a comment that was intended to be funny, but the speaker pointed out that this was limiting and not encouraging. (My humor is a bit of an “acquired taste.”)

Another example of giving a yellow light would be censoring an idea, instead of encouraging it under the concept of “no idea is a bad idea.”

Giving a “red light” means that you completely shut off the brainstorming session and make people uncomfortable to share ideas. You are literally stopping the flow of creative ideas.

Next, the speaker had us do an exercise to identify our personal brainstorming style. We learned that introverts are likely to be more quiet, because they need time to process and think about it. Extroverts, on the other hand, would be more likely to shout out their answers.

The exercise showed me that I am one to break the silence. This can be like giving a “yellow” light to others who are still brainstorming. And, it’s not the most helpful for introverts in the room who need time to process things!

By understanding how we can facilitate an environment of healthy brainstorming, we can get the ideas to take our organizations to the next level!

What do you think your “brainstorming style” is? Write back to share — I’d love to know!

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