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Making Sense of Group Input

Making Sense of Group Input

In the early stages of a project at IDEAS, we often hold an “All Call” where we gather folks from the Story, Learning, Studio, and Operations teams to iterate on the task at hand and how we might develop an innovative and viable solution. While the client’s objective, target audience, budget, and delivery parameters are usually already determined, the details of what we will develop to meet these design requirements is often less understood.

However, having a safe place where people can freely express their ideas without concern for how they might be received can quickly become overwhelming as disparate concepts and creative approaches for how to best articulate and share the story start to pile up. Creative organizations – especially ones that practice innovation and design thinking on an active basis – are rarely at a loss for coming up with ideas. Instead, they often face a more daunting challenge; which ones shall we move forward and further develop?

One approach that we use at IDEAS is for the person who is tasked with the project and has put out the “All Call” comes with no pre-conceived notions for what the solution should be. Rather, their role is to keep the group focused on the task and listen as the new ideas and possibilities are bandied about the table. Our culture is one of “no nuking” to keep the process positive and inclusive, insisting on a “yes, and …” appreciative inquiry approach to ensure that comments are always additive.

This allows the All Call session leader to actively listen with open ears, not for supporting ideas to their own emerging creative construct, but to gather and mine the free flow of iteration that the team willingly shares. As the group’s creativity ebbs and flows, both nascent and solid concepts percolate up to the surface. Their task is to keep them coming. The session leader is to capture them for future harvest. There will be plenty of time for the session leader to get their own licks in after the All Call.

Asking others to share ideas to validate your own construct negates the true creativity and collaborative power of the organization. Trusting them to deliver a wealth of concepts as ingredients you can sift through afterward to assemble a more robust solution ensures that they will always bring their best creativity to the table.

Duncan Kennedy
Duncan has 20+ years experience designing and producing digital media, signature events, and destination experiences for clients.