Employee Engagement and Brainstorming

Sorry we’re late on the blog this week but a personal unexpected problem came up.

The blog has talked before about some of the simple exercises that have been posted on our Facebook page.  This week the blog is about the most recent exercise posted on Facebook – the one about the paperclip.

We use this exercise with groups in a couple of ways.  One, it’s a brainstorming exercise.  If you did this exercise with a group of people you probably got more ideas as a group than as an individual.  What we normally say to a group is, “if we asked you to come up with that many ideas on your own, could you have done it?”  The answer is “no.”  That’s why it’s so important to brainstorm.  It gets us to work with others.  It’s a beginning step to team building.

Brainstorming is a very simple problem-solving tool.  We all do brainstorming.  We may do it alone or we may do it in a group but we want to make sure we get as much from our brainstorming as we can.  Brainstorming allows everybody to participate and because of that it can help with commitment to whatever it is we’re working on.  The one thing to remember is not to critique any ideas – especially our own ideas.  Sometimes, we don’t mention an idea because we think it won’t work.  When we brainstorm, we’re not worried yet about the idea working.  That’s for later.

It’s not a good idea to pick at someone else’s ideas.  Once people start poking fun or picking at other people’s ideas, the brainstorming drizzles.  People stop giving ideas simply because people make fun or simply say, “that won’t work.”  Make sure people don’t do that when brainstorming.

With the paperclip exercise, there may have been some really goofy ideas but sometimes goofy ideas may not be so goofy.  If it’s a work problem, someone may come up with the most outlandish idea but that’s okay because it might be the idea we want or it could lead to the idea needed.

The other thing about the paperclip exercise is it gets us to think outside the box – think differently about how to use a paperclip than just clipping papers together.  The same thing is important when we’re working together on a project in our clubs or at work.  It’s best to always look for new ways of doing things or have new ideas to replace the same old approach to solving a problem.  This is especially true in our workplaces today as we deal with rapid change, competition and demands.

Being the creatures of habit that we are, it’s sometimes hard to try something new so a quick little exercise like the paperclip exercise can get us to start thinking.  If you haven’t tried the exercise, try it and see how many ideas you can come up with.  If you do try it, let us know how it worked on Facebook.

Keep watching our Facebook page for other quick exercises to do with your group.

About CALMC Blog

Columbus Area Labor-Management Committee is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to involving employers and employees to preserve jobs, resolve workplace issues, and promote labor-management cooperation. Visit our website at http://calmc.org
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