The narrative Brainstorming tool comprises three steps; diverge, analyze, and converge.  Besides non-narrative methods of capturing participant input, consider the following options when gathering narrative input from your participants.

With narrative brainstorming, first remember to embrace the rules of ideation. Prevent discussion while you are capturing their ideas. At the end of ideation, consider one last round robin for final contributions, allowing participants to say “pass” if they have nothing to add.

Ideation Ground Rules

Ideation Ground Rules for Narrative Brainstorming

Keep in mind that the term “listing” may be more appropriate if you are collecting a known set of information. True brainstorming derives all future possibilities—anything goes. Beginning with the traditional, facilitator-led question and answer approach; consider the following.

Options to Consider for Narrative Brainstorming

  • Facilitator-led questions—keep in mind that you can use a support scribe(s) but if so, remind them of the importance of neutrality and capturing complete verbatim inputs.
  • Pass the pen or marker—again having prepared the easel title/ banner, have participants walk up to the easel in the order of an assigned round-robin sequence to document their contribution(s). This approach is wise after lunch or when participants’ energy is low because it gets participants up and moving around. Help them with their penmanship or clarity if necessary.
  • Pass the sheet or card—particularly appropriate if time is short, the group is large, or you have many questions requiring input (distribute a writing pad or index card for each question). Write the question or title on individual large cards or sturdy-stock pieces of paper and either sitting or standing have the participants pass them around until each person has had the opportunity to make a contribution to each question. This approach helps reduce redundant answers since participants see what prior people have written.
  • Post-it Notes—continue to use easels with sheet titles for posting the notes. Have individuals mount one idea per note. Allow as many notes as they want. Post them on the appropriate easel whose title/ question matches to their answer. If there is more than one question, you can color coordinate the easel title/ banner with the Post-it note colors.
  • Round-robin—again having prepared the easel title/ banner, and perhaps in consort with a scribe(s), create an assigned order by which the participants one at a time offer content, permitting any of them to say “pass” at any time.

Possible Time-boxing

Consider time boxing the ideation step if necessary, typically in the five to ten minute range. Remember, the hard part is the analysis that occurs next. Find those discussions in other articles.

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Finally, MG RUSH  professional facilitation curriculum focuses on providing methodology. Each student thoroughly practices methodology and tools before class concludes. Additionally, some call this immersion. However, we call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.

Become Part of the Solution While You Improve Your Facilitation, Leadership, and Methodology Skills

Take a class or forward this to someone who should. MG RUSH Professional Facilitation Training provides an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, 40 CDUs from IIBA, and 3.2 CEUs. As a member of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF), our Professional Facilitation. Therefore, our training aligns with IAF Certification Principles and fully prepares alumni for their Certified Professional Facilitator designation.

Furthermore, our Professional Facilitation curriculum immerses students in the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. Because nobody is smarter than everybody, attend an MG RUSH  Professional Facilitation, Leadership, and Methodology workshop offered around the world, see MG RUSH  for a current schedule.

Go to the Facilitation Training Store to access our in-house resources. You will discover numerous annotated agendas, break timers, and templates. Finally, take a few seconds to buy us a cup of coffee and please SHARE.

In conclusion, we dare you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

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Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, PSPO, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Monthly Facilitation blog features over 300 articles on facilitation skills and tools aimed at helping others lead faster, more productive meetings and workshops that yield higher quality decisions. His clients include Agilists, Scrum teams, program and project managers, senior officers, and the business analyst community among numerous private and public companies and global corporations. As an undergraduate of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and MBA graduate from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on process improvement and product development. He continually aspires to make it easier for others to succeed.

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5 Comments

  1. After taking your training & working with it for awhile, I distilled it into a single fractal process: Discover, Analyze, Decide — very similar to the Brainstorming steps: Diverge, Analyze, Converge. The tools for each step vary with the kind of material or kind of decision, but the frame D-A-D works well at any level.

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