Think Fast and Have Fun

How to use games and competition to warm up your brainstorming team.

Diana Lillicrap 8.16.2019

Want to make sure you get the most out of your team during a brainstorming session? Add in some creative games to get the juices flowing.

Forget what you know

Most of us work in environments where we are likely hesitant to bring ideas forward unless we feel we have vetted them, considered all the reasons why it won’t fail, and have narrowed down our suggestions to the top ideas. That might be business as usual in most companies, but it’s the opposite of what you want to accomplish in a good brainstorming session. Productive and fresh idea generation is about quantity, not quality.

Since this doesn’t come naturally for most people (or at least most adults—kids excel at this by the way), here’s a simple exercise you can incorporate to warm your team up and get them in the right frame of mind.

Think fast!

Give everyone a sheet of paper and a pen. Then ask them to come up with as many things as they can think of that you can do with a simple object, like a paper clip. Or if you sell a particular product, like a chair, use that as the item of reference.

Tell them they only get one minute to come up with ideas and the winner will get a prize. Encourage them to think outside the box. For example, with the chair, of course we all know you can sit in it, but what about using it for an office race? Or using several of them to make a sculpture? The ideas don’t need to be practical. The more creative and absurd the better.

Once they get the point, set a timer for one minute and have them write ideas down as fast as they can. After the timer goes off, have them count their ideas. Find out who has the most ideas and then ask them to share some of their favorites. Reward the winner with a candy bar or a toy or other simple prize. Ask others who feel they have some crazy ideas to share as well, and reward them too.

This activity not only gets people in the mood for idea generating without judgement, it rewards them for speed, creativity, and a willingness to share outlandish ideas (which are often the most valuable in the end).

Did this spark an idea? Let's talk!

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