Have you ever been in a room full of big personalities during a brainstorming session? It can be exhilarating to witness, inspiring, or a letdown as you have ideas for which there doesn’t seem to be space. I wonder how many great ideas never made it on ‘the list’ because the extroverts (and yes, I’m one of them) hogged all the time.

If the idea is to get great ideas, an approach I recently learned is a super way to ensure engagement by all types: brainwriting. Instead of using a verbal medium, ask the question(s) in advance of a discussion and encourage all participants to submit their answers in writing, without sharing the responses until everyone has submitted.

Requesting written responses that are not shared also eliminates a scenario where people ‘agree with the boss’ which I call the deference to authority limitation. Especially early in my career, I wanted to get on the good side of ‘the boss’ which meant I waited until I knew what s/he thought and then mirrored that opinion – makes me a bit queasy thinking about it now.

Ah, the power of the pause! When we give people time to ponder, we get a richer list of possible solutions from individuals with quick responses and those whose ideas, like a nice sourdough, need a little more time to rise.

– Becky Sharpe, CEO