Collaborative idea exploration and the end of the loudest voice

May, 19th 2016Simon Tomes

"That's actually really clever!".

Words I don't hear often from my wife when referring to something I've done. The dot-voted Post-its lay in front of us and my Sister-in-law was inspired with what to do next in her career.

The 3x3 technique had worked its magic again.

Your first idea is just the beginning

I'm frustrated by "Who can talk the loudest?" brainstorming sessions. People latch on to those first ideas and stop exploring. One or two further ideas are likely discussed as extensions of the first.

It's uninspiring and uncreative.

What about all of those other ideas bursting to get out? What about ideas that haven't even been thought of yet? I don't have a loud voice and tend to share my ideas in a comfortable environment – at the end of a meeting after I've heard everyone else.

The approach doesn't feel right. I'm missing an opportunity to contribute earlier. And what about team members who don't have the courage to say anything at all?

Inspire yourself first, then others

After learning of my Sister-in-law's desire to completely shift her career, I thought I'd try an experiment: Can I use "3x3" on something completely unrelated to product development? A resounding yes blew me away.

Before the experiment the 3x3 technique existed in product development workshops and at Qeek. The goal is to explore what is possible. Collaboration is effortless and creativity is high.

A 3x3 is simple:

  1. Everyone write 3 ideas on 3 Post-its
  2. Go round the room in any order, pitch each idea in 15-seconds
  3. Gather all Post-its so everyone can see
  4. Add your name or initials to the one that inspires you the most
  5. Clean out unselected ideas
  6. Repeat two more times

At the end everyone can dot vote their favourite winning ideas with 1, 2 and 3 dots.

Say goodbye to the loudest voice

Everyone is invited to the party. Everyone has a voice.

Something special has happened everytime I've used this technique. People buzz off each other's ideas and often a wonderful rapport is revealed between the participants. The team feels closer, glued by collective creativity and inspiration.

Go beyond what you think is possible

The 3x3 technique is in its infancy and I feel confident it works for:

I'm convinced 3x3 will work in many more situations:

The opportunities are limitless.

Over to you

Could you use something like this? Where do you think it applies? Have you used something similar? Try it out! How did it go? I'd love to get your thoughts, your experiences and your feedback!

Main image credit: Dean Hochman