Untraditional Brainstorming, creative thought development, team problem solving
Index Cards, Pens or pencils, round tables
Break the group into teams of 3 – 5 participants. Ask each team of 3 – 5 participants to sit at separate round tables (the round tables help although are not necessary) Place a large stack of index cards in the center of each round table Have the topic or idea to be “brainstormed” written on a white board or power point slide - “What can we….?” “What can be done to ….?” ex. "How can we better understand the needs of our customers?", "What can be done to improve the quality of this product?", “How can we increase our throughput?”
Ask each team of 3-5 participants to sit at the tables. Each participant is dealt 5 blank index cards. The remaining cards (~100) are placed in the center of the table. Explain that this is going to be a brainstorming session that will be individual as well as team based. Within a brain storming session there are no wrong or right responses and no idea is off limits. The participants are going to have two, five minute rounds to write down as many solutions as possible on the index cards – one idea per card (one idea written on one card). If they use more than the five index cards grab another card from the center pile. After an idea is written on the index card the participant SLAMS the index card down on the table face down to their right (face down is the side that the idea is written on). The SLAM is important - the sound and the vibration of SLAMming the card on the table adds a tangible feeling to the “Mind Spin” that makes the activity more fun! If at some point a participant cannot think of any solutions to the topic question they may grab one card from the top of the participants pile to their left. They have 3 options before SLAMming the card down to their right; a) Simply SLAM it down to your right after reading it and grab another card from your left... b) Read it, be inspired by it, SLAM it down to the right and grab a blank card write down your inspiration ....then SLAM your idea card to the right... c) Read it, add to it with a question or comment, then SLAM it down before grabbing another card from your left...
Ask the participants to continue until they hear the train whistle, bell etc...
Once round 1 is complete – the facilitator gathers all the idea index cards (from ALL teams) and shuffles them. The facilitator them evenly distributes the idea index cards to the small teams. Ask the participants in each team to distribute the idea index cards amongst team members and place them face down in front of each participant.
Round 2 – Begins the same as round 1 – this time if the participant reaches an idea block they grab an idea index card from the pile in front of them – then they SLAM it to their right. NOT until all the cards from round 1in front of the participant are gone can the participant grab a card from their neighbors pile to the left. Ask the participants to continue until they hear the train whistle, bell etc… Once round 2 is done the facilitator gathers all the idea index cards.
What does the facilitator do with all those index card ideas? Read through them – there will be several duplicates – while reading through the ideas the facilitator can create broad categories for further discussion or choose the top 10 ideas to discuss further.
The SLAM makes this “Mind Spin” activity even more effective. Encourage participants to keep moving! This is a fast paced LOUD activity – if they have no ideas grab the one to their left – I have seen ideas make their way around a table 10 to 15 times. The idea behind the 2nd round is to really wring out the ideas and to encourage the full spectrum of thoughts.
This activity can be used for many purposes: What was gained from our time together? What are we going to do differently in the office tomorrow? What kind of coffee pot should we buy for the office? Where is the family going to go this year on vacation? What are the qualifications for our new associate? What are your goals and expectations from this training? Any question or problem that you and your team are facing (that you wish to have the team and groups input on) can be used in the Mind Spin.
-Michael Cardus: serves as an adventure consultant and Team Building facilitator for Create-Learning-Team Building located in Buffalo NY - We Travel to any location in the World! Michael is also the author of TeamBuilding Blog about experiential theory for creating and unleashing your teams potential.