I recently read an article about how Google structure their brainstorming sessions and I felt compelled to write this post.
I’ve worked in ‘agile’ organisations where the walls have been littered with mountains of coloured post-it notes. Google make it look fun, but sometimes agile brainstorming is a pointless exercise.
I’ve joined ‘stand-ups’ – meetings where everyone stands around and shares their ideas and one guy takes the lead – usually the guy with the whiteboard marker. I’m pretty vocal too, so my suggestions get heard, but my quiet colleagues stay silent. In the end there’s an overall feeling of what a waste of time that was.
Getting people to individually write down their ideas is a great way to get people freely sharing their suggestions. This can then lead to robust discussions and people can be creative and passionate. But these sessions can also go around in circles – and they often do – with no real decisions made. This is where agile thinking fails.
Now if you’re not working at Google, you probably can’t go and build a prototype that’s purely based on your brainstorming sessions…
To have some structure around your brainstorming sessions, I’d suggest agreeing to individual deadlines and deliverables that the team can commit to (based on everyone’s area of expertise), before meeting again to review each other’s progress.
When reviewing each other’s work, make sure you keep your customer in mind – don’t go off-track or get too attached to your own ideas or suggestions.
Set a date for your next catch up.
When the team is ready and happy with a projects progress, start creating something.