How a think tank works

Everyone who is involved or cares about the outcome can take part.

The right brain is used when you brainstorm. It makes it easy for ideas to flow.

Strategy is something you do with your left brain. When people are brainstorming, strategizing stops the flow of ideas and forces everyone to evaluate the idea critically.

So, here are the rules: don’t say anything bad, and all ideas are good ideas.

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of the session if you want to bring other people in.

1. Write a short plan that includes the brainstorm’s Situation, Goal, Outcomes/Outputs, Resources, and Timeline (SPORT).

2. Give it out at least two to three days before the event so that people can think about it and/or do some research.

3. Make sure everyone knows where they need to be at a certain time the day before. People being late or getting coffee or water while everyone else waits is the worst thing that can happen to a creative session.

4. Make sure the table has coffee, tea, and water.

5. Spend the first five to ten minutes of the meeting making sure everyone understands the purpose and goals of the meeting.

6. Make it clear that a think-tank is not a strategy meeting; it is a way to come up with new ideas.

7. Nominate a scribe ( someone who will write the ideas on a whiteboard or butcher paper)

8. Set a time limit (say 30-40 minutes maximum)

9. Go around the table and start talking. If someone doesn’t have anything to say, they can pass. People will soon join in once the ideas start to flow.

10. Have the scribe write down the ideas so they can be shared the next day.

11. Make sure everyone knows that ALL IDEAS ARE GOOD IDEAS and there are NO NEGATIVES.

The right brain is for creative thinking, and the left brain is for planning.
When this rule isn’t followed, it’s easy to see why it’s so important to the success of a creative session. If people feel like they can share their ideas, no matter how crazy, the session will always come up with some creative ways to reach your idea or goals.

When a participant is allowed to plan, they can say things like, “No, I don’t think that will work because…” or “How do you think you’d be able to do that?” The room’s energy changes in an instant.

To process this thought, people have to switch from their right brain (creative thinking) to their left brain (analytical thinking). The creative thread that had been running through the room like an electric current, feeding each new idea, has been turned off.

It is a waste of energy that could have been used to think creatively about how to turn the electricity back on.

This is harder than it sounds, but a well-run session is a great way to get everyone excited about the power of working together. Most likely, the core of your communications solution will be on the whiteboard when the meeting is over.