Have you ever watched actors improvising together on stage? Without a script, they interact with each other to create an interesting scene right before your eyes.
The same techniques these actors use can help you and your team members work together to create powerful ideas for your business goal, mission or project.
Let’s explore these six habits that will help you successfully improvise in your next brainstorming session.
Think input before output. The secret to improvisation is paying attention to what’s going on. Listen first and be open to others’ ideas. Let everything you say be informed by what you hear and observe. If everyone does this, every idea will have a chance to come into the conversation.
Size up the scene. Improvising actors are constantly interpreting what their fellow actors are saying and doing. While brainstorming, constantly seek to understand what your brainstorming partners are really saying and why they are saying it. Be curious and seek to understand context.
Create a series of “yeses.” One key improvisational concept is called “Yes, and …” When an actor says something, the others embrace it and build upon it. Productive brainstorming requires constant affirmation. Find ways to affirm and build upon what your team says.
Explore and heighten. Be open to new ideas. The best ideas often don’t reveal their brilliance until they are explored. Have the patience to heighten emerging ideas by discussing them, bringing out their deeper meanings and implications.
Focus the conversation on your colleagues’ ideas. Brainstorming doesn’t work if people focus too much on their own ideas. Focus much more on discussing other people’s ideas. Introduce your ideas by connecting them to the ideas and comments of the other people in the conversation. If everyone in your brainstorming group does this, the best ideas will shine through.
Don’t rush the story. Brainstorming is a process that takes time, and if you rush through it, you won’t come up with the best ideas. Sometimes you need to pause and ponder an idea. Sometimes you need to break and come back fresh. Sometimes, just before you think you’re done, you need to go back to try out one new idea.
Just as you need to employ patience to heighten individual ideas that emerge through your brainstorming, have patience as you seek your ultimate goal. The goal of brainstorming is not to finish fast but to finish well.