Most of us have participated in a brainstorming session. It’s often kicked off with a current hot topic, a few ideas get thrown on the table, more ideas follow and it ends with the big question of what comes next. Occasionally this helps solve the problem at hand but all too often these well-planned sessions have little lasting impact.
The Design Gym, an NYC-based creative education company, believes that while brainstorming sessions are an important part of the creative process, it’s usually an entire host of factors leading up to the session that dictates how successful it will be. A culture that supports open communication, strong feedback loops, and has a high level of trust uses these traits as a foundation to push big ideas into the world and harness the diverse perspectives in the organization.
“We began by teaching public workshops focused on collaboration,” says Jason Wisdom, co-founder of The Design Gym. “But we quickly realized that those skills are for naught unless a team has the ability to open up honest and deeper conversations about the problem at hand. That means facilitating trust and diagnosing underlying issues within the team to build a better environment for collaboration.”
To build these internal relationships, The Design Gym uses simple but powerful visual exercises to help teams share their own perspective and better understand each other’s.
“One thing we like to do to help loosen people up is give them 10 minutes to draw their job. Meaning we ask them to sketch what they do on a daily basis. It helps create unexpected clarity in their own role and points out areas of overlap or tension between their role and someone else’s,” says Hagerman.
In addition, drawing things out not only makes abstract thoughts more tangible but also enables teams to ask more probing questions.
“When people see sketches or diagrams, they’re immediately more curious about developing solutions,” says Hagerman. “They want to know how the pieces fit together, why someone ‘thinks’ a certain way, etc. It helps establish a common visual language for everyone to communicate and allows people to work though problems together.”
Naturally, Post-it® Products play a major role in helping teams create both relationships and solutions.
“Post-it® Notes give everyone a voice in the room. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, they give all team members a visual platform to build on and discuss,” says Wisdom.
“Plus, they offer an emotional significance as well. When you see a wall of Post-it® Notes, there’s an emotional resonance to it. People are surrounded by the collective output—whether it’s a set of solutions or a customer’s emotional story, you can’t help but react. Other products simply can’t do that.”
You can learn more about the process at thedesigngym.com.