Note & Vote to Brainstorm Better

Image Copyright Filament LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

Image Copyright Filament LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

Note and Vote is a brainstorming method from Google that works well with introverts and in rooms with where there are big differences in status (the CEO and her Admin, for example). Here’s how it works:

Note:  Distribute paper and pens to each person. Set a timer for five minutes to 10 minutes. Everyone writes down as many ideas as they can. Individually. Quietly. This list won’t be shared with the group, so nobody has to worry about writing down dumb ideas.
Self-Edit:  Set the timer for two minutes. Each person reviews his or her own list and picks one or two favorites. Individually. Quietly.
Share and Capture:  One at a time, each person shares his or her top idea(s). No sales pitch. Just say what you wrote and move on. As you go, one person writes everybody’s ideas on the whiteboard (at Filament, we'd draw these).
Vote:  Set the timer for five minutes. Each person chooses a favorite from the ideas on the whiteboard. Individually. Quietly. You must commit your vote to paper.
Share and Capture (2):  One at a time, each person says their vote. A short sales pitch may be permissible, but no changing your vote! Say what you wrote. Write the votes on the whiteboard. Dots work well.
Decide:  Who is the decider? She should make the final call — not the group. She can choose to respect the votes or not. This is less awkward than it sounds: instead of dancing around people’s opinions and feelings, you’ve made the mechanics plain. Everyone’s voice was heard.

Why might this work?  Because in most meetings, three people are doing 70% of the talking.

FacilitationMatthew Homann