As companies transition through periods of instability and change, senior leadership teams will need to establish how best to approach these challenges and create a clear strategy.

An open and honest discussion is needed in the first instance, but various issues can arise when it comes to group interactions in the workplace.

For various reasons, individuals can be vulnerable to conforming when perhaps they don’t necessarily agree. This can be due to several personal factors.

  • The need to avoid rejection and conflict. Some of us are simply wired to avoid creating an atmosphere of tension or despondence, particularly in the place we spend most of our time.
  • The desire to accomplish group goals. As teams make plans and move forward, disagreeing or suggesting different ideas can feel like you are holding back your group and taking away that momentum. For hard-workers and team-players this can be a difficult predicament to tackle.
  • The need to establish one’s own identity and authority. The issue with going against an opinionated superior is that it can quite quickly diminish one’s own power and influence in the situation – a risk that many employees would feel averse to.

Individuals’ tendencies to conform may create an environment in which mediocre ideas flourish and true change is less likely to happen.

This risk aversion is a big factor in the success or failure of brainstorming sessions so moving forward, how can senior leadership teams partake in a more productive brainstorming session?

Anonymous brainstorming.

Anonymous brainstorming can serve as an excellent way for employees and team members to contribute without risk and feel like their ideas are being fairly considered.

How does it work?

  • Each member of the group would be asked to submit - on a piece of paper or electronically – their ideas.
  • These would be collected by a facilitator, appointed by the business leader, prior to the brainstorming session.
  • These ideas can be presented in no particular order, during the brainstorming session.
  • These ideas can be either discussed or even voted on independently and anonymously to establish the level of agreement behind each idea.
  • All submissions can be vetted and reprioritised and the silent-voting process can be repeated until a clear choice can be made.

This brainstorming structure will take more time and effort than your standard brainstorming session but it has the potential to reveal truly original ideas that may not have come to light if people felt it was too risky to share them. Teams are more likely to produce a solid strategy if a range of different ideas and solutions can be brought to the table and discussed.