Better brainstorms: 2. Whom to invite?
Around ten years ago I worked for what is now Red Bee Media. One of our clients was the BBC’s Nations and Regions ‘division’ which contracted my team to work with the BBC Local Radio network.
It was fruitful and enjoyable work and it meant travelling around England a lot visiting radio stations, living in Travelodges and generally becoming one part more Partridge every month. I left before any Corby Trouser Press incident though.
On one occasion some local radio journalists, a few presenters, production staff and the station manager were huddled in a room with me for an idea generating session at what I think was BBC Radio Humberside but, on reflection, may have been Tees. It was in a grim concrete building in Hull. Or Middlesbrough.
Inside the room the presenters thought they were the creative ones, the news staff less so. The station manager was enthusiastic but loud and introduced me unhelpfully as “the creative guy from London”.
Meanwhile, a volunteer from a weekend programme poked his nose round the door, curious at what we were up to. I invited him in because, in a properly structured brainstorm, nobody has to earn the right to be creative.
The ideas we came up with that day were sparked and shaped by everybody in the room, including our accidental volunteer participant. The group explored thoughts that would have remained beyond reach without his involvement. And any of them could have been a springboard to something great.
So, everybody’s invited then?
I’ve found you need the right number of people. Somewhere around a dozen is ideal. More than that and it gets harder to keep everybody involved, fewer and the less confident souls risk feeling exposed.
So, not quite everybody then.
If your organisation exhibits a strongly “top-down” management culture you may want to keep the boss out.
There’s nothing wrong with the boss’s ideas but others may be intimidated in their presence and therefore limited in their ability to drop their internal filter. Judge this one carefully.
It’s also possible that the boss’s ideas have had pretty good exposure already and the reason for running a brainstorm is to think afresh.
Also, if you have a client, you may want to exclude them too, if only to preserve some theatre of genius when you present your idea.
Next time: setting the rules
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