Why is that? People are often busy and time is short. Maybe the group has not worked together before, and brainstorming isn’t frequently practiced. People tend to jump immediately into a tactical mindset, focusing on ideas that are logical, practical and easy to realize rather than creative. Another impediment is people who believe they cannot be creative. Brainstorming moderators know all too well about these ubiquitous challenges. In such circumstances, a group warm-up can perk up the group and help jumpstart it with creative energy.
2 Warm-Up Exercises Before Brainstorming
We’d like to share two activities with you that could serve as both warm-ups and icebreaker activities. The first one is called, “The Martians Have Landed” and the second is known as, “30 Circles”. They may sound playful or even childish, but they are designed to activate people’s brains and make them more aware of their own creative thinking abilities.
1. The Martians Have Landed
Imagine the following situation: A group of Martians has just landed on your company’s parking lot. It is your responsibility to welcome them to your company. The only drawback is that they do not speak or understand any Earth languages, only graphic symbols. However, they are curious about you and your company. Here is what your group has to do:
- Each attendee should prepare a short speech consisting of graphic symbols to welcome the Martians (e.g. on a DIN A4 or a flip chart paper).
- Post all speeches on the wall and have everyone review them.
- Choose the single best speech that should be presented to the Martians (e.g. through Dot Voting).
2. 30 Circles
This creativity exercise was developed by Bob McKim and it was more recently popularized by Tim Brown’s 2008 TEDTalk: Tales of creativity and play. The materials you need for it are simple: each attendee needs a writing utensil and a piece of paper with 30 circles and 3 minutes of time.
- Within the given time, the attendees should transform each circle on the paper into something recognizable like a volleyball, bicycle wheels or a planet. Sketches are preferred to trying to compete with Monet. It is okay to draw outside the lines. The goal is to transform as many circles as possible.
- Afterwards, ask who was able to transform 5, 10, 15, 20 or more circles into a drawing. Usually, people tend to edit and think too long on each circle. Kids are far more spontaneous in drawing. Creative people will not only fill the different circles with drawings but also will include all of the circles, “playing“ with them, often even connecting them to create one picture.
Connecting thoughts in an original way is indeed the key to creativity. These warm-ups will get you thinking creatively – without hesitation or any self-doubts – so that you and your team are ready to come up with fresh, ingenious ideas.