Richard Maun – Silent Brainstorming

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Silent Brainstorming

4 November 2013

Listening to the radio the other day I stumbled across a programme about group creativity and it turns out (surprise, surprise) that people working in groups tend to be less creative than people working alone. This is because people often defer to those they perceive to be more senior, or more creative. People can also run a negative self talk loop that says ‘my idea is rubbish’ or ‘they will just laugh at me’ and as a result hang on to their idea and say nothing.

This is where we can deploy the concept of a silent brainstorm. We can neutralise the silly talk and keep the powerful people at bay by making sure our creative thinking sessions are held in silence.

What you do is write up the question to be answered in the middle of a flipchart pad so everyone can see it. Then hand out Post-it note pads to people and give them 2 minutes in silence to write down their idea. (Preferably using a marker pen so they are easy to read at a distance). After 2 minutes people can put their Post-its on the flipchart in silence and can read other people’s ideas. This can spark new thoughts and is a great way to foster creativity.

Then have a second round of it and see what comes up next time!

When we are faced with 2 minutes of silence the noise of the group is switched off and that allows the noise of our thoughts to bubble up to the surface. It also prevents loud (or overly influential) people from derailing the group process by intimidating others.

Silence is golden – use it and get the best out of all of your colleagues.

Next week: Three level listening


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