Best Practices: From Brainstorming To Mind-clustering

Mind-clustering is better than brainstorming. The brain likes to compare and contrast. The mind transcends and includes brain output and more.

Here are some best practices to help turn your brainstorming into mind-clustering. Whether what you seek is a future vision or strategic or innovation breakthrough apply and adapt these tips to optimize your session.

You are trying to:

  1. Download ideas.
  2. Generate insight.
  3. See the future.
  4. See yourselves in the future.
  5. Create the future. (To create the future we must first see it…)

Tips to help your process:

  1. Allow for iterative comments. You are not in the validating phase. Envisioning and creating the future is like sculpting. That’s why it’s iterative.
  2. Defer judgment / withhold criticism (of your own and of others’ ideas). This is not a proof of concept conversation.
  3. Avoid explanation of “why it will” or “why it won’t” work. Do not be defensive.
  4. Create a safe environment for half baked ideas.
  5. Welcome unusual/ wild ideas. Push boundaries.
  6. Enable different thinking styles by enabling different speeds:
    – Some prefer a few moments of quiet reflection.
    – Others think while speaking out loud.
    – Some create mind-maps
    – Others like metaphors
    – Some approach with reason
    – Others are intuitive and instinctive…
    – And some will draw pictures and more…
  7. Allow repetitions that build, develop and further ideas, combinations and connections.
  8. Include holistic and granular. Encourage thinking for the whole and include the specific, the granular function, role and viewpoint.
  9. Depersonalize. What you say is not kept against you or is attached to you. You are a conduit to ideas and thoughts. You have no need to defend or to own ideas that come through you.
  10. Allow for divergent ideas / views. Do not converge too early or seek harmony and agreement.

Here are helpful protocols for your brainstorming or better still mind-clustering:

  1. Encourage personal reflection time before the session.
  2. First brainstorm or mind-cluster the question. If you come to a few good questions prioritize and get focused on one question at a time. A clear question is the key to an impactful session.
  3. Capture other questions that show up in your session.
  4. Some sessions need an open ended question: “What is our future vision?” Others will get better impact with completing the statement: “Our end-state vision for 2015 is…”
  5. Allow for pauses of silent reflection to engage other parts of the brain and mind…  and encourage with: “And what else…”
  6. Participants contribute one element, idea per round. (And without lobbying explanation).
  7. Avoid using “I” to help depersonalize and disassociate ideas from the people expressing them
  8. One conversation at a time. One speaker at a time.
  9. Use brevity.
  10. Listen Actively. Be curious and open. Allow yourself to be surprised. Allow your mind to surprise you with new insights and ideas. Enjoy.

© Aviv Shahar

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