How to get the most out of all the brains in the room using Shifting

At Inventium, we use “Shifting” to ensure we utilise all the brains in the room. Research from Harvard University has shown teams that work individually first before shifting into group mode produce significantly more ideas and more diverse ideas than teams that do not. You can use it anytime to seek thoughts or ideas from your team.

Aim

To produce more ideas and more diverse ideas and to allow everyone in your team a chance to contribute.

Resources

  • A facilitator
  • A problem/task

Method

  1. Share the problem you are trying to solve with your team.
  2. Instruct your group to work on the problem/task alone for 5 to 10 minutes or until you see the pens start to slow.
  3. Bring the group together and ask people to share their ideas and build on each other’s ideas. This should take between 20 and 40 minutes.
  4. Shift back into individual mode and get people to build on the shared ideas for 5 to 10 minutes or until you see the pens start to slow again.
  5. Lastly, bring the group back together and repeat Step 2.
  6. You can also use Shifting outside of a meeting environment. For example, you can share the problem via email and give people a couple of days to think about it individually. You can then schedule a meeting for everyone to share their thinking. And repeat the process if necessary.

Outcome

Shifting works by overcoming two key problems with traditional brainstorming. First, it ensures you don’t only hear from the more extroverted members of your team. By allowing everyone time to think and share their ideas, everyone has a chance to be heard. Second, it avoids Group Think. Group Think is when someone suggests an idea, and other group members are influenced by this idea and prematurely converge their thinking. By giving people time to work alone before sharing, you can avoid these issues.