What’s your go-to activity when you need ideas?
For many teams, the answer is a brainstorming conversation. But those fully unstructured conversations rarely produce sound and strategic ideas, and often they look more like this.
I love this image from Jake Knapp’s book Sprint, and it really captures the essence of many brainstorming discussions.
A critical weakness of the traditional brainstorming approach is that people are simultaneously trying to internally imagine and reflect while simultaneously externally sharing and responding. The human brain doesn’t work like that, so the discussions stay scattered and shallow.
But ideation sessions don’t have to be like that.
By applying a technique like note-and-vote, you add just enough structure to the conversation to allow ideas to effectively be formed, shared, evaluated and chosen.
How do you move from the chaos of a hundred ideas to prioritized, focused action?
Note-and-vote is simple yet powerful. It can be used in a design sprint, a critical strategy sessions or even to set a real-time agenda for a meeting.
As you might expect, the process has two steps, note and then vote. I’ll explain each in detail so you can apply it to your next meeting.
The team starts by stating the problem being solved or the question being answered. Then each person begins the individual asynchronous work of writing down ideas.
Instruct everyone to write their ideas on sticky notes with one idea per note.
This is a time for internal processing, reflection and slow thinking. There is no talking during this time, though playing a little music can help those who struggle with silence. The key is to give people space to think and write.
People will write what they might not say.
The silence draws out a depth of thought where the volume of brainstorming sessions keeps you shallow.
This phase is time boxed to a few minutes. It’s best to have a visible timer, so everyone knows how long they have. Once the timer goes off, let everyone finish writing that last thought and move on to the next phase.
It’s easy to feel stuck or have an obstacle and not be sure how to begin to overcome it. I can lead your team through workshops for discovery, ideation, problem-solving, and solution testing.