7 Ways to Know Your Brainstorming Meeting Will Fail

ImageThink graphic recording 7 seven ways to know that your strategy session will fail. Enhance your brainstorm. Blog post title image with cartoon of facilitator, meeting attendees, agenda items, thinking people, and puzzle pieces.

Are you planning a brainstorming meeting/strategy session?

At ImageThink graphic recording, we have supported thousands of meetings across many industries.  Along the way, we’ve gleaned valuable insight into what makes for a successful strategy session, and what are signs of sure failure. Whether you are a Fortune 500 company or a new startup, some things are universal when conducting an internal meeting. Avoid these seven strategy session pitfalls to make sure you make the most of your time.

brainstorm or strategy session cartoon by imagethink. All you brought to the meeting was snacks and paper.

1) Your meeting prep consisted of scheduling a room, a video conference line and catering.

The only planning for this meeting was done by a senior exec admin. She’s got the room booked and people in the room. Maybe some junior folks have been delegated to “plan” but who has vetted the objectives and agenda? Visualize these items at the start of the meeting to align the group, this will also serve as a reminder to stay on track throughout the session.    
brainstorm or strategy session meeting cartoon by imagethink. There is a piece of the puzzle missing.

2) One of the 3 key components of planning is missing

Objectives (where are we going), Vision (Why are we going there), & Agenda (what is the itinerary for this trip). A brainstorming meeting is going to require a good deal of thought regarding defining realistic objectives and thoughtful ways to achieve them. Don’t confuse meeting objectives with your departments objectives. 

Strategy session or brainstorm meeting cartoon by imagethink. The room is full of the wrong people, including santa claus and gumby, but no stakeholders. 7 ways to know your strategy session will fail blog post.

3) The room is full of the wrong people- key stakeholders and leadership are missing

If the people who have the authority to bless ideas, approve budgets, and provide key insights are missing from your meeting, one of two things will happen: Your meeting will stall out as soon as someone in the room points out that “we really need X for this discussion” or worse yet, the people in the room will move forward only to find all their work in vain, when Ms X didn’t buy-in. When we support a brainstorming meeting, we make sure these essential people are involved throughout the process, from the planning call to the day of the event. 

7 ways to know your brainstorm meeting will fail cartoon by imagethink graphic recording firm. You planned to plan. Two figures people sitting on a long paper scroll drawing shapes in the ground.

4) You planned to plan

I was once meeting with a team who was tasked at creating a three year road map. The first hour of the day was spent naming names of people who should be on the task force. What was this task force for? To meet at a later date to make the roadmap. Instead of doing the real work, the group punted, delaying any decisions for a later date, to other folks. 7 ways to know your brainstorm meeting will fail cartoon for blog post by graphic recording firm ImageThink. Your presentations are filled with nothing but powerpoints that put attendees to sleep.

5) The agenda largely consists of getting everyone “up to speed.”

It is difficult to be collaborative if we aren’t aware of what other departments are doing. There is value in recaps, but don’t confuse show and tell with strategy or decision making. We have found a great way to get everyone up to speed pre event is to create infographics or social media teaser graphics, send us the info & we’ll take care of the rest.
7 ways to know your strategy session will fail cartoon for blog post by New York graphic recording firm, ImageThink. Insights, what insights? People walk away from the meeting confused and without direction. Attendees look at a big question mark on a board.

6) Insights, what insights?

No one is brining insights into the room. Research is missing, your clients’ perspective isn’t represented, your competition is ignored, industry trends are absent. In our book Draw Your Big Idea, we help you through simple exercises to get into the heads of your clients & competition. This produces valuable insights that can be used in your brainstorm. 
7 ways to know your strategy session will fail cartoon for blog post by New York graphic recording firm, ImageThink. You don't have an appointed facilitator. Angry woman with crossed arms. Markers and post it notes floating around her.

7) You don’t have an appointed facilitator

The same senior ex that was too busy to define the objectives has become the default facilitator. While she might the expert at the topic at hand,  it is not a guarantee that she is skilled in group dynamics and decision making. Invest in having a professional facilitator who will focus on the process, encourage full participation and keep the group on task and moving forward. A valuable partner to this facilitator would be one of our graphic recorders, we support your meeting by visualizing the big ideas & engaging your attendees. Isn’t your strategy worth it?

Ready to plan a successful brainstorming meetingGet in touch with us to maximize your impact & create valuable deliverables. Check out our book Draw Your Big Idea for more tools to achieve your goals.

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