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Brainstorming activity

  • Activity: Quick Brainstorming Method Using a Mind Mapping Software MindMapper
  • Key objective: Learn to brainstorm efficiently and effectively on a given topic
  • What is the value of this exercise?

Learners will participate in timed brainstorming sessions that are focused on identifying and acting on their desires and wishes. There is no substitute for doing this activity in a classroom setting or online session, surrounded by others; the experience becomes not only more dynamic but also transformative.

Many people believe that brainstorming is a challenging activity, calling for a high cognitive load. They feel pressured to come up with great ideas and solutions so that they are not viewed as incompetent by their work colleagues or supervisors. For that same reason, many learners may be resistant to trying this managerial tool in a life-planning course, such as this one. Although these reasons are valid, when they are adopted as factual they block the creative process before it has even begun.

To anticipate and respond to this, we have intentionally selected easy brainstorming topics – the results of which will not be shared with others (unless they are shared voluntarily). The idea is to facilitate creativity to the extent that every inch of our participants’ bodies, souls, and minds are focused and working towards manifesting their desires and wishes. By helping learners brainstorm for their own personal growth and potential, we are also working towards cultivating a mismatching experience that can help them to conduct brainstorming sessions at work with more ease and confidence in the future.

What does this activity involve?

This is a personal activity that facilitates learners in brainstorming about their desires and wishes. Specifically, they will be given 1 to 2 minutes to brainstorm categories of wishes, such as “I want to have…”; “I want to go to…”; “I want to do…”.

Little time is allotted for learners to concentrate on the subject at hand. After all, this is an exercise where quantity trumps quality. So, we encourage learners to write down anything that comes to mind without ‘over-thinking it. Through this process, we expect that the learner will be surprised by the ideas that surface.

What does the participant have to do?

Learners will practice brainstorming in a non-linear, radiant thinking, mind mapping format. For those who are familiar with MindMapper, this process is straightforward. Those who are not familiar will be guided by the following instructions to readily create topics:

  1. Open MindMapper
  2. Create a blank map by clicking the document icon in the top left corner
  3. Select the title
  4. Press “enter” to activate edit mode
  5. Type “Wish”
  6. Once the central (or the root topic) is created, it is time to create the 1st level topics
  7. Select “Wish” and press the spacebar
  8. You should see a branch form with the cursor blinking
  9. Type the first topic, “I want to have”
  10. When done, press Enter key to complete
  11. Repeat this process to create new topics: select parent topic –> Spacebar –> Type text –> Press Enter

This brainstorming session will enable learners to tap into their deep-seated wishes and dreams. Working with perimeters and a limited amount of time encourages learners to work hard to come up with as many ideas as possible. However, there is an art and a science to this practice; learners must turn off any filters and blockers that hinder the creative process.

To demonstrate how limiting filters and blockers can be to the brainstorming process, the classroom facilitator will invite group members to come up with 30 items in 1 minute on the topic “I want to have.” On average, each learner will come up with 5 to 8 items in that timespan. Some will be able to identify more than 10, yet very few will even reach 20. Next, the facilitator will tell the learners to turn off their filters and blockers that are hindering the creative flow, explaining that filters and blockers are any internal voices that rationalize explanations for that topic at hand. Blocking and filtering leave participants discarding or writing items down only after careful reasoning. Following this demonstration, learners will be asked to complete the same activity, but without any filters. Typically, they do a much better job the second time around. In fact, the more they do this exercise, the more familiar they become with successful brainstorming and how easy it really is.

In terms of process, learners will be prompted to come up with ideas for the first three topics by work (2 min per topic):

  • I want to have…
  • I want to go…
  • I want to do…

There can be other categories that each learner can input on their own, or they can finish up other topics (5 min):

  • I want to be…
  • I want to see…
  • I want to build…

Lessons learned

Once the Wish maps are completed, the facilitator will ask the learners how it felt to brainstorm their wishes in a timed brainstorming activity. The facilitator will then ask if anyone would like to share their map with the class. Many learners will come away feeling surprised and encouraged by how easy it was for them to brainstorm. They may also experience a ‘high,’ because it can be refreshing to pour out wishes and wants uninhibitedly on a mind map.

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