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Reasons why “brainstorming” often fails

Creative and innovative thinking requires some skills that can be learned. When people are invited to think far away from the box, they frequently adopt 2 recurring behaviors that kill the process:

  1. not expressing ideas because of fear of being judged by the others

  2. Killing ideas with a ‘yes, but’ reflex

You will recognize this behavior in simple meetings, conversations, and many other situations.

What would be the outcome if the cycle was inversed? That is exactly the strategy that the Walt Disney crew adopts in their creative processes. Robert Diltz who is one of the founding fathers of NLP was fascinated by the success of the approach, modeled it and developed a very effective brainstorming concept called “The Disney Method”.

The Disney approach

Robert Diltz distinguishes 4 stages/roles in the creative thinking process.

  1. The outsider

  2. The dreamer

  3. The realist

  4. The critic

The ‘outsider’ observes the symptoms and the causes of the current situation. The ‘dreamer’ focuses on as many innovative ideas on desired situations and outcomes. Next the ‘realist’ decomposes the dream in concrete required actions. Finally, the ‘critic’ challenges the actions.

The process is preferably moderated by an experienced coach. He sets the safe container, observes participants to keep them in the right roles in the different stages, to teach them communication skills to stimulate innovative thinking, to make them challenge and give feedback in a constructive way, etc…

Successful brainstorming with Hans

I am an experienced Master in Systemic NLP and I combine the Disney Method with 3 additional useful insights to support teams and organisations in successful, innovative and creative thinking. These organisations include government institutions, Multinationals and small and medium sized organisations all over Europe and Middle East.

My sessions start with an exercise to get into the appropriate mental state for the day. I walk participants through the eco—system in which they will operate and share some presumptions that will support them in being the best brainstormer to date.

I take 30 minutes to teach participants how to broaden the scope and horizon of creative thinking an I teach people 3 easy to adopt communication skills that completely change brainstorming conversations for the better.

Depending on the desired outcome, I then follow the organiser’s practical instructions regarding the themes, the split in groups and practical agenda arrangements.

At the end of the workshop, the teams are invited to pitch their ideas, conclusions and first next step/time frame. I briefly teach the “presentation diamond’ as framework to pitch with impact.

Setup & arrangements

The best results are achieved when the available space is used appropriately. If possible there is a (separate) dream room (or corner), a realist room (or corner) and a critic room (or corner) serving as place anchors to keep people in their roles. Rooms/corners are equipped with flipcharts, post-it notes, markers, pens and paper, colour pens, and possibly other tools to promote creativity.

The complexity of the themes and the number of people taking part in the session determine the overall duration. I have moderated ½ day brainstorm sessions as well as sessions that lasted 3 days (1 day per role) for very complex themes.

About the coach/moderator

As Supplier of Optimism and Inspiration, Hans Demeyer supports professionals in becoming aware of their internal resources. He inspires people with simple methods and hacks to become the next best version of themselves. This leads to a series of interesting AHA moments and creates generative fields in which people live and work better together and achieve common goals much faster.

You will find Hans as facilitator during meetings or brainstorm sessions, as inspiring key-note speaker during events, as trainer/mentor/coach for individuals, teams and organisations, as host of interesting podcasts on communication (LittleBig & Partners), and on how our brain works and plays tricks on us (Breinpiraten)

Hans is co-author of the bestseller “Spelbrekers” (currently available in Dutch), a guide for teams and team leaders. “I love the balance between theory and practice in this book”, said Professor Marc Buelens of the Vlerick school in a recent review.

The content of the book is based on +25 years of experience in delivering various types of training and guidance around a variety of themes including:

  • Building and maintaining healthy relationships

  • Self-control.

  • Putting things into perspective

  • Building confidence & trustful relations

  • Dealing with conflicts

  • Coping with Change

  • Developing strategies to achieve goals

  • Inspire & convince people

  • The art of Making Friends (rapport building)

  • 5 ways to Faster Learning

  • Developing Critical Thinking

  • 6 ways to be congruent in thinking and acting

  • The secret of developing Charisma

  • Seducing people into….

  • Freedom of choice and how to work with options

  • Signs that tell you someone is lying

  • The art of asking questions

  • Develop leadership

  • Coaching people and get the best out of them

  • Dealing with bullying

  • Dealing with bad news

  • Turn phone calls into compelling conversations

  • Conversational hypnosis

  • Master your mental and Emotional state

  • Dealing with criticism

  • How to give feedback

  • Addressing an audience with impact

  • Developing Emotional Intelligence

  • Manage stress

  • Increase your perceptual awareness

  • Recognizing body language and interpreting correctly

  • Bringing bad news in a good way

  • Discover and develop talents

  • Formulating and achieving objectives

  • Dealing with Procrastination

  • Recognizing and reprogramming limiting beliefs and patterns

  • Recognizing thinking Styles

  • Borders and how to protect them

  • Brain-gym - remember more, forget less

  • Dealing with priorities

  • Say NO to not being able to say no.

  • Innovative thinking, how do you do that?

  • How to get rid of bad habits?

  • Coach your boss

  • Deal with dilemmas

  • Understanding your model of the world

  • How to deal with peer and social pressure?

  • Getting rid of addictions

  • The power of humour

  • The difference between truth and reality

  • Sell as a coach

Contact and additional information

Hans Demeyer

Supplier of Optimism & Inspiration


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