Brainstorming doesn't help creativity, content workshops could work better and here's why.

For a while now we've been thinking about ways to make workshops more user-focused and more productive. A great article in Fast company on the flawed nature of collective brainstorming, galvanised some of these thoughts.

Some of the issues raised apply to all kinds of group meetings. A big one is 'anchoring' which occurs when early ideas are discussed. Anyone who's ever sat in on any kind of collective brainstorm, will know that initial ideas are the more obvious, but need to be written down so that you can move on. However, because they are first and tend to be discussed more, they 'anchor' in the group and have a subconsciously disproportionate influence over the conversation. In order to avoid this happening in a creative brainstorm, it can be useful to separate idea generation from the discussion.

One way of doing this is brain writing. This is where either before or at the beginning of the meeting, people write down their ideas. Then everyone comes together to share those ideas out loud in a systematic way. A good way to do this is for participants to post all the ideas on a wall, without anyone's name attached and then everyone votes on the best ones. In studies, brain writing groups generated 20% more ideas and 42% more original ideas as compared to traditional brainstorming groups. If that sounds more like the results you want, there's more info here.

Some of the same issues are at work in digital strategy and content marketing workshops. For most folk, the idea of spending time in a digital content workshop wouldn't be top of their bucket list. Maybe that's because most of the time is spent writing down content types and distribution platforms leaving little time to discuss what your target audience might be interested in.

With that in mind, we printed out all the distribution platforms and content types onto cards beforehand, so that we know we've covered everything and are not distracted by cries of "what about Google Plus?" or, don't forget Eventbrite!"

We found that using pre-printed cards means that the discussion is all about the strategic planning, not who can remember the most content types. We also found that adding goals and audience types means that the conversation keeps coming back to the user. Cards also allow multiple people get to get involved. Teams can easily show hierarchy by the positioning of cards on the table or create themes around distribution platforms.

It was such a success in-house, that we are turning to Kickstarter to make a pack available to anyone. Be the first to know when we launch by signing up here and get the most out of your next workshop.



Steve Lloyd