When a team asks me to join in a brainstorming session, and the first thing I see is someone with a notepad trying to capture all their thoughts, I always find a way to have them change to sticky notes and a large wall space. Why?
Traditional team brainstorming sessions often mistakenly use a single scribe writing down thoughts on a notepad or a whiteboard or flipchart. But that process is flawed for several reasons.
Flaws in traditional brainstorming
What’s wrong with using one scribe?
You just created a bottleneck to the creativity. Now everyone must wait their turn to suggest an idea. The flow of wild ideas is now dependent on the writing speed of one person, whose ability to capture free-flowing ideas into a few words can stifle the torrent.
What’s wrong with using a notepad?
The notepad under the control of the scribe limits the entire team’s ability to see the other ideas listed, preventing creative piggybacking (embellishing on ideas already posted).
What’s the solution?
Grab hundreds of sticky notes and several sharp-tip markers, in a room with a huge wall surface within reach of every participant. Have ALL participants capture their own sticky notes for each facilitated prompt.
Now the flow is no longer limited by the speed of the scribe, ideas will be written in the exact words of the creators, and all participants can be stimulated by previously-posted ideas.
See also my previous post, “do you run brainstorming sessions like futbol or paintball?”