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Collaborate With Off-the-Wall Thinking

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

                     Here’s an idea to spice up your staff meetings with a brainstorming session. Reading time: 4:19

         POST IT NOTES With a sense of urgency in every step, the corporate executive marched into the conference room and glared at his colleagues seated for their weekly staff meeting.

          Then an eerie, tension-filled, pregnant silence commandeered the the safety and security of the conference room.

          It felt as if were High Noon at the OK Corral.

        Suddenly the leader seemed like a gunslinger, itching for some action. He flung his hand into his pocket and drew– OUT a stack of Post-It notes. He waved them around as if they were a gun, and commanded: ”STICK ‘EM, UP! ”

       They did.

       Within a few minutes the surrounding walls were festooned with 3X5 cards and Post-it notes in so many colors they looked like butterflies hovering over the walls.

      Indeed the most effective leaders turn meeting rooms into team thinking rooms.  They have a penchant for displaying and sharing ideas that involve all meeting participants.

indexThe format is basic:

1. People come together and collectively develop a list of general categories affecting a problem.
2. Those categories are then displayed around the room either on marker boards, magnetic boards or tack-able (pin-able) boards.
3. Then the 3X5 Index cards or Post-It Notes and thick marker pens are dealt to participants.
4. The leader challenges each person to write an idea (in less than 5 words) that would address each of the categories.
5. The leader then asks each person to “Stick ‘em up” —to stick the cards and notes on the marker board under each category. Then the group reviews each other group’s thinking — category by category.

Connecting Ideas Like Tinker-Toys

           This is where the magic of the minds comes together, where people begin making connections between different ideas like so many Tinker-Toys; wh?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????ere different ideas are collectively woven together into a thoughtful (and thought-filled) quilt of understanding and insight that no one person could have envisioned.

      As a leader, you already  know that today’s business problems are more diverse, more complex and more interdependent on outside forces than ever before.

     Therefore problem-solving must be more diverse, more collaborative and more visual than ever before.

         With their displayed collective thinking festooned across the wall, creative problem-solvers more readily see new ideas emerge.

         index-cards No wonder the eyes are so powerful in processing information.

        The nerve pathways from the eye to the brain are 25 times larger than the pathways from the ear to brain.

       People communicate more effectively visually.

         In fact Albert Mehrabian in his book  Silent Messages  in 1971, noted that 55% of a message is received visually, 38% by the tone of voice and only 7% by the words you use.

        Creative problem-solving begins visually, according to Thomas Edison who said that he thought in pictures not in words. And Aristotle said the soul “never thinks without a picture.”

      But the key in effective problem solving is keeping these pictures of ideas in focus — like so many dots on the organization’s radar screen.

  Digging Out of your Tunnel Vision

      Then all options are open to problem solvers who are no longer locked in their tunnel vision. They can literally see four times greater —360 degrees on all sides surrounding them not just the 90 degrees straight ahead.

      Small wonder you are energized after participating in a collaborative  “Off-the-Wall” brainstorming session.  After all, you never know when a “flight controller” in the room will find a new way to land an idea despite turbulence when he or she can see all incoming traffic.

     The note cards pinned on the walls are like so many blips on the radar screen, blips that must be reviewed consistently against new in-coming and out-going information, blips that let the best ideas really fly, blips that let the best ideas really stick.

       On the wall.

Today’s ImproveMINT

Use Index Cards visually to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.

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