How to Brainstorm with Introverts

brainwritingIn a few days, my fledgling game company will have a visioning session to discuss where we are today, where we want to be in 5 years, and how to get there.

A key part of the session will be open brainstorming from participants. I love open brainstorming, especially when you can feel the creative energy flowing in the room.

Until recently I was only aware of one general type of brainstorming. There are variations on it, but the basic idea is what we’re all probably familiar with: an open forum for people to shout out ideas.

However, as a recent article on Fast Company pointed out, there are a few downsides to verbal brainstorming. The first is that while one person is talking, other people are thinking. Your attention is divided between listening and thinking, so you’re not able to fully focus on either without ignoring the other.

The second is that the first few ideas mentioned get a disproportionate amount of attention compared to the ideas that follow. That can be a big problem, because often the first few ideas mentioned aren’t even close to being the best ideas. Also, it’s extroverts who usually shout out those first ideas, so ideas from introverts are left in the dust.

Fortunately, the article offers a great solution that we plan to implement at our visioning session. It’s called brainwriting. Again, there are variations on it. The version we’re trying is that everyone gets a pad of post-it notes, and they’re given the freedom to write any idea they want to discuss further. As people write, the moderator picks up the ideas and sticks them to a whiteboard, saying the idea out loud. That way everyone has the time to think of their own ideas, but there is a shared sense of creativity and imagination.

As an introvert, I much prefer this concept of brainwriting, and I can’t wait to try it. Have you ever tried a variation of this at your workplace?