Brainstorming the Big Questions that Come with Change

People who successfully lead organizations through change recognize challenging situations, adapt products and services appropriately, and help their teams to adjust behaviors to thrive in increasingly complex environments.


How do these leaders make what can seem impossible happen? The answer is simple, making it happen is a bit more difficult. How often does a brainstorm activity veer off course resulting wasted time and no path to a solution in sight?


Effective change leaders empower their teams to become part of the solution, so they create change as opposed to letting change happen to them. The leadership challenge is being able to facilitate constructive brainstorm sessions that help teams consider “out of the box” alternatives.


Hal Gregersen, Executive Director for Organization Leadership Studies at the MIT Leadership Center, offers several suggestions to facilitate better brainstorming sessions in the March-April 2018 Harvard Business Review. In addition to setting the stage so participants feel comfortable and confident their contributions are meaningful, Gregersen offers several suggestions to help pose questions which will encourage innovative thinking. Strong brainstorm question techniques involve:


A. Make sure everyone in the group understands the goal the brainstorm session needs to achieve.

B. Keep questions short and simple.

C. Encourage brief periods of random association to loosen innovative thought process.

D. Assign individuals a role which encourages them to view the challenge from a different perspective.

E. Ask people to describe what is working or what’s not working to pin point the root cause of success or problems.

F. Actively support a culture of curiosity where all ideas are welcome and explored.


Taking the time to set supportive ground rules and develop improvisational activities that encourage your team to consider other points of view will hep you to facilitate a brainstorming session that allows people to look at the bigger questions that drive change and foster an innovative solution.


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