The perfect brainstorm location
During the last week several people asked me how the perfect brainstorm location should look like. I am always pretty happy when people ask me this question. Because all too often the impact of a bad location is minimalised. So here are some tips that should guide you when looking for an inspiring brainstorm location. 1.Never brainstorm in the office. If you are going to use the same room that you use for boring meetings, don't expect people to be stimulated by the surroundings. Moreover, there is a big chance that people start checking their emails during the break or worse that other colleagues disturb the session for an 'urgent question'. So always rent an external brainstorm location.
2. Find a quiet room. It's almost evident you don't want to be disturbed by the noise of the djembe group next to your meeting room or cars driving by. A quiet, natural surrounding is much better. So check the room on-location in advance and ask the host which other groups are renting a room at the same day. A location where your group is the only guest, is of course a nice to have.
3. Find a large room. Make sure there is enough space for people to sit comfortably and walk around. It makes people get more open and outside the box if there is also enough physically space.
4. Comfort & convenience & service • Go for a room with a lot of daylight. Possibly with your own terrace and windows & doors, which can be opened for fresh oxygen. • Look for a room with enough white walls to stick post-its and flip-over sheets. • Prefer a round table where everybody can sit around above a rectangular table suggesting that the person sitting at the head of the table is "in charge". Maybe there is enough room to place all chairs in a U-shape (without tables!) plus 4 or 5 tables with chairs to work in smaller groups. • Check in advance that the chairs are comfortable enough to sit on whole day. • Don't forget to ask for a beamer, a projection screen and flip-over boards with an endless amount of paper. • If you’re organising a 2-day brainstorm, prefer a " all under one roof"-location for accommodation, dining and brainstorming. • Don't save on the catering. Nothing worse than not enough (or no) coffee, thirsty mouths and hungry stomachs.
5. Ambience Find a space that stimulates the senses and that inspires. This may come from the natural surroundings, the neat selected design furniture, the history of the property or the excellent service. The room should have a pleasant, comfortable atmosphere. This can also be enhanced by the presence of inspiration material (magazines, LEGO blocks, etc.). Important here is to remember that a brainstorm room is not the same as a relaxation area.
6. Toppings You can create an additional dimension by picking a location that is directly related to your challenge. Or by choosing for instance a special menu with only organic food. And if you go for a 2-day brainstorming check in advance the outdoor activity you can do close by to relax body and mind.
I admit many criteria to take into account. But without any doubt it is worth taking your time to select a good brainstorming location that meets these criteria, better than to face some unpleasant surprises the day of your brainstorm.