The most informal and casual form of idea generation can be known as brainstorming, that time-honored process of tossing out concepts, notions, and hastily-conceived plans with a hopefully open-minded group. The goal may be to problem-solve, to concoct new ideas for a venture, or to theorize about a topic that has kept everyone mystified. In Team activities, brainstorming can be utilized for tremendous results, as a simple warm-up exercise to a larger event, as a break from other, more structured programs, or as a standalone game. Pure brainstorming has little to no structure, but this scenario is risky in that its results are utterly dependent on the improvisational skills of at least one key participant. If there are no such participants present, results may be lacking...completely! Structured brainstorming is quite the opposite. If well designed, a game that promotes brainstorming using structured rules and processes will guarantee great results from all team members. Even the most shy, careful or self-conscious participant will contribute if the game itself encourages, insists and rewards such contributions. The principle is this: when presented with a blank 'canvas', may people will creatively choke and produce no new ideas. However, with a few pointers, leads or suggestions, most will easily be inspired to quickly generate new material. All that is needed is context.
With some provided context, Team members can relate to the concept and begin the process of idea generation. A structured brainstorming game will provide initial context. Many of the best of these games starts with one context and, once the ideas are flowing, lets those newly generated ideas form the context for the ensuing 'rounds'.
SILLY RESTAURANT GAME
Example of 'Rounds' in a possible structured brainstorming game:
1. Each Team member must create the name of a funny restaurant.
2. Each member chooses which of the funny restaurants (they may not
choose their own) they would like to visit and what they envision would
be the most popular meal there.
3. Team members perform 'skits' into pairs. (the one who created the restaurant name with the one who picked it to visit). Each pair performs a 30 second skit, whereby the two enact a scene where the popular dish is ordered but some horrible kitchen mistake occurs. (the one who invented the restaurant is the manager/chef/waiter)
4. Everyone votes on the best, funniest skit. The entire Team works together to write a fake menu for the winning restaurant.
This chain of activity could go on forever, with new wrinkles added each time. The point is that everything can be made from nothing, when imagination is encouraged with some very simple contextual motivators. The best brainstorming games for Teams involve well designed motivators that form a compelling structure.