Brainsqualling with Stephan Mumaw

Stephen Mumaw in his nun's habit to remind us that "creativity is a habit."

What could be better first thing in the morning than listening to a 6-foot tall guy in a nun’s habit and making crafts with Play Doh and pipe cleaners? Stephen Mumaw, co-author of Caffeine for the Creative Mind led a session on how to get the most out of brainstorming. His two main points:

  1. Creativity is a habit
  2. Think before you think

Sister Stephen gave some very practical tips to help with group brainstorming sessions:

  • The ideal number of people to include is 5-7. More than 7 and no one will speak. Less than 5 and you won’t get enough variety and input.
  • Don’t surround yourself with other you’s. Variety of opinions is important, so go ahead and ask someone from another department to join in.
  • No pop quizes. NEVER call someone to a meeting to start brainstorming immediately. Always give notice, preferably a week.
  • Value time. Give yourself and team members plenty of time to come up with a great idea.
  • Start the fire with a creative match. Try starting a brainstorming session with a creative exercise to get everyone in the right frame of mind.
  • Leave the judge at the door. Don’t allow negative feedback and comments in an initial brainstorming session. You need bad ideas and good ideas to get to great ideas, and negative comments will silence all ideas.

In between brainstorming tips, the group got to try some creative exercises. The first was to build a Colorado Sasquatch made of the random craft materials on the table, working in groups of three. The next exercise was to build an amusement park ride for a bug, also out of the materials on the table. The final exercise was to design your ideal desk if you had infinite resources to do so.

Our group's Sasquatch was a mountain biker who loves to drink Fat Tire beer (made in denver) and he only eats organic hikers.
Our team's ride for a bug is the PLUNGE OF DEATH, a rollercoaster that ends with a flume ride into a toilet.
It took little prodding to get the designers to get creative with the supplies.
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