We all walk in the room for the brainstorming meeting.
Like a symphony, the director learns to navigate their orchestra.
We know there is an expectation of being our creative best and delivering amazing ideas, because we are the "creative person."
We feel the insecurity of actually sharing those ideas.
What if they get rejected?
What if people think that these ideas are cheesy?
What if people see me as a fraud?
Worse, what if my thoughts get ignored?
Diverse experiences, backgrounds, and data that have entered a system over the years, creates unique palettes.
We always live with what we have done, what we are doing, and what we dream of doing someday. There is constant assimilation of experiences that make up our creative toolbox. Everyone has one; some people use it more often than others.
Moreover, with that tension, the tension of our DNA or the false belief that our identity is trapped in each of one of our ideas, the meeting then starts ….
As leaders, we have a responsibility to help others become comfortable enough inside the boundaries of our meetings to share. Without creating this security, we will never get to the raw and real ideas that can move our art and church forward creatively.
However, how do we create this type of atmosphere?
1. Set the expectation
Expectations are huge but setting them sets everyone up to win.
Clarify what we are after, and what we are trying to accomplish. Let everyone know that of all the ideas that are shared today, only so many can be used. That does not mean that an idea is bad, it just means it might not be functional for this series, project, or campaign.
Take ownership of this fact by setting the expectation at the beginning of the meeting. Alert those in attendance that every idea is being captured and catalogued, and that the reality is that not all our ideas that we will talk about in this meeting will end up being used on this series.
There is the potential, though, that we may be able to use these unused ideas on other projects and we are thankful for them being shared.
Finally, clarify the fact that the best idea for this series or campaign is the one that will win and has nothing to do with where it originates.
2. Affirm ideas
With each idea that is shared, find a way to affirm that idea. "Yes, and" is a great plan to convert even the most abstract ideas into function.
When people feel affirmed in their ideas, they become increasingly more likely to share the next idea that they are thinking of sharing.
3. Recognize ideas
Oftentimes, the timid dreamers in the room get overshadowed by the boisterous dreamers. This does not mean that their ideas are less valuable. It just means their amplifier may just not be as loud. Recognize and make sure that every idea is documented. It is a simple exercise, that permits people to keep sharing.
4. Expound on ideas
As you feel out the room, at times you will feel the tension of those who could end feeling dismissed or disenfranchised. Lean into these instincts and when ideas are shared, make them part of the conversation.
Expounding on ideas often makes that one idea replicate into several ideas and gives confidence that the next idea should be shared.
5. Confront the issue
As hard as we try, there will be people who end up upset from time to time. "You didn't use my idea" is code for, "I think my ideas are better than everything else we talked about." The truth is, too often there is no context for the rest of the variables around these series and projects.
The ego of an artist at times passes the logic of the artist. When this happens, hard conversations are necessary.
Honesty is a great equalizer. Being honest will expose the truth, that can then set us all up to win the next time around.
As leaders of these meetings, we need to be farmers of ideas, cultivators of ideas, and directors of the room … and the emotions in the room.
Like a symphony, the director learns to navigate their orchestra, and it is our responsibility to navigate the egos, pulse, and emotions of those attending our creative meeting.
Pull the best ideas, direct the conversation in the right direction, and permit people to share the ideas God has given them. Creating a safe place for dreamers to dream is a huge part of this process.
The truth is that there is a very select group of people who are ever going to be upset about their ideas not being used. More likely, people won't share their greatest ideas, because they are scared.
The anger of an idea not being used is driven by agenda and pride, but the fear that keeps us from sharing our best ideas is a trap to keep us from being our creative best. Permission Creativity.