Never will your brain work harder than when it’s exercised to ideate or solve a problem. The more you stretch your mind the more doors you will open and the faster you’ll find solutions. The same is true for your body. Stretching your muscles improves blood flow, reduces stress and gives you the balance and flexibility you need to go the distance. So why not combine the two?

Stretch_555 ideations

As fun as they are (well they’re fun at R+M), ideation sessions are very, very hard work. A successful ideation is built on a solid left-brain/right-brain partnership. In addition to the truckload of info required to begin, you also need a team of people with gigantic open minds and a lot of stamina.

Here are some tips for a healthy ideation session that is sure to pay off.

  • Stand up. As the meeting is getting started have everyone stand. Do some arm circles, neck stretches or better yet, choose some stretches created by four-time Mr. Universe, Bill Pearl, highlighted in this book: Stretching in the Office, by Bob Anderson.
  • Be open to change. An ideation is about mass quantity of ideas – filtering comes later. Do what you have to do to get the juices flowing. We suggest changing something before you start. For instance, go outside with a gigantic sticky pad, borrow your kid’s classroom, give everyone crayons to take notes with, wear a hat, or at the very least take off your tie! Change something. The idea is to stimulate your brain by moving out of your comfort zone.
  • Speak up. Bring people to the table that know how to use their two biggest assets, their brain and their mouth. Shout it out! The dumbest idea is far better than the one you almost said. After the first 15 minutes, if you detect a silent partner, I’d suggest waking them up with a round of squat thrusts or jumping jacks.  Or, you can dub them the official white board writer and they can stand for the rest of the meeting.
  • No ideas are right or wrong. Remember, filtering comes later. Negative feedback should be “punished” by jogging in place for 30 seconds – by everyone!
  • Keep it moving – literally. Plan your ideation in segments. All you need is a whistle and a timekeeper. Example: 15 min. of idea spouting, then everyone changes seats. Another 15 min. then you pull a word out of a hat (seeded by the leader) to spark a new direction. Another 15 min. then everyone takes a stretch and a bow. This format also prevents “over discussing” one idea or topic.
  • Blow it up. Use the last 15 minutes to begin grouping ideas by colors. Have everyone blow up a different color balloon (good exercise for the lungs). Green for immediate use, Yellow for further exploration and Red for a new approach to the problem. No, the balloons aren’t actually used for the grouping exercise but they make people smile, and you can all pop them at the end of the ideation to give you some exciting closure.
  • Snap it. I always recommend taking pictures of your ideation board. It’s much more efficient than re-typing everything. Plus you have the added benefit of seeing the emotion created as you charted the ideas. Like that triple yellow star or that quadruple underline. These are important characteristics to keep.  And while you have the camera out, snap a picture of all those open minds around the table. Who knows, one of them could be famous for the next big idea.

The first time you try this format your ideation may go a little longer than expected, but don’t fret. This one has a duel purpose so give it some breathing room when scheduling.

Shoot me your comments and ideas. Love it? Hate it? Let me know what you think about this post.

Keep the blood flow moving and share these links with your colleagues:
Stretching in the Office: Diagrams (The copy is a bit dated but you’ll get the picture)
Discovery Fit & Health: 10 Office Exercises
Wikihow: Exercise at your desk
WebMD: Office Workout

Check back for more pics of our stretch ideation progress.




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