June 23, 2016
GOT A BRAINSTORM SESSION TO FACILITATE? Remember Yourself!

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Big thanks to Idea Champions' Director of Training, Val Vadeoncoeur, for this insightful post on the power of mindset.

One of the biggest blind spots we human beings have, and one of the most common, is forgetting to include ourselves in the calculation. It's almost as if we believe we don't matter or as if our intentions or the manner in which we do something won't play an important role in affecting the outcome. Not true. It does.

Otto Scharmer of The Presencing Institute in Cambridge, MA elaborates on this curious phenonmenon:

"Why do our attempts to deal with the challenges of our time so often fail? The cause of our collective failure is that we are blind to the deeper dimension of leadership and transformational change. This blind spot exists not only in our collective leadership, but also in our everyday social interactions. We are blind to the source dimension from which effective leadership and social action come into being. We know a great deal about what leaders do and how they do it. But we know very little about the inner place, the source from which they operate.

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Scharmer goes on to quote Bill O'Brien, former CEO of Hanover Insurance.

"When I asked him (O'Brien) to sum up his most important learning experience in leading profound change, he responded, 'The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervenor.'"

Not surprisingly, this great truth also applies to your challenge as a brainstorm facilitator. Are you truly doing everything you can to get yourself ready for the optimal performance of your duty?

You've gotten the room. You've invited the right people. You've worked out a meaningful agenda and focused on the right question. Everything appears to be in order -- except for one thing. The state of your mind, heart. and soul. In other words, yourself.

Without doing so, the odds of you being uncentered, unfocused, and less-than- vibrant will increase, resulting in the quality of the sessions you facilitate declining.

What follows are nine practical tips to ensure that you will be at your best when it comes time to facilitate an effective brainstorm session:

1. VISUALIZE THE SESSION the night before: See yourself confidently and successfully facilitating each part of your agenda.

2. UNPLUG FROM OTHER PROJECTS at least an hour before your session. There is no need to schedule distracting activities or important meetings right before your session.

3. REVIEW YOUR AGENDA at least an hour before the session. Know the flow of what's to come, what you want to accomplish, and what you want to say to move the agenda forward so it all makes sense to participants.

4. SHOW UP AT LEAST 30 MINUTES BEFORE the session to set up the room. Even if your set-up is minimal, the act of simply moving objects into their proper position and cleaning up messy sight lines will help you put your stamp, your energy, into the room.

5. VISUALIZE THE RESULTS YOU WANT -- with people engaged and happy to be there; you calm, focused, clear-headed and articulate; lots of great ideas being generated; lots of kudos for a job well done.

6. DO WHATEVER RELAXATION TECHNIQUES ALREADY WORK FOR YOU:
They will help put you in the zone. There is no reason not to do them. If they work, they work and and will work before you begin your session. If you don't know of a way to center yourself and relax before going "on stage", then find a way.

7. SET YOUR INTENTION AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL: One way to do so is to complete the following sentence: "I want to be at my very best so that..."

8. PLAY YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC as you set up for your session -- and have some instrumental music playing as people enter the room. This will not only relax you, it will relax participants -- helping them make the transition from their left-brained business minds into their more right-brained creative minds.

9. COMMIT TO HAVING AS MUCH FUN AS YOU CAN: If you are enjoying the moment, chances are good that others will, as well. This can only help.

Which of these "get the zone approaches" will YOU do before your next brainstorm session? And what else might you do to ensure that you don't forget about YOURSELF before facilitating the session?

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at June 23, 2016 06:36 AM

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