Socialize Frequently To Brainstorm

If you want to harness the power of brainstorming in your organization, spend time together having fun. (Excerpt from Unite The Tribes: Leadership Skills for Technology Managers)

Because I've spent a lifetime hanging out with the creative class of humanity, I know the joy of getting together with a group of people to make music, shoot videos or bring any other such concept to life. I also bear the battle scars of a few failed dot com startups. I guess I wouldn't have much street cred as a geek if I didn't.

While I enjoy software development much in the same way that I like writing songs, one of the most exciting parts of starting a new venture has always been the brainstorming sessions. They start, naturally enough, with thoughts on products and services and how you can create the next bright and shiny object.

However, if you've hooked up with the right people, that's only the beginning of the fun. You'll find that as you start exploring these notions with kindred spirits, everyone gets caught up in the excitement. It's very similar to the fun you have at a party, where teams form up and you play a word game or some other group activity.

If you go about it the right way, everyone enjoys themselves and will naturally fall into roles that are both comfortable and productive. Some will be the idea people. Others will instinctively play devil's advocate, highlighting the moves your competitors could make to block you. The combined interaction is an upward spiral of both strategic achievement and enjoyable group interaction.

If you want to harness the power of brainstorming in your own organization, getting together socially rather than at the office is both more practical and more relaxed. The latter is an important consideration for any creative endeavor, and strategy certainly falls in that category.

Of course, you can't mandate that people gather after work to grab a cheeseburger and share their plans for world domination. Like every other part of the company culture that you work to create, it's best to foster an environment that makes this a natural and acceptable part of the job. If you lead by example and allow it to grow organically, with people joining in because they enjoy it rather than out of a sense of obligation, you'll naturally bring together your best and most enthusiastic minds.

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