Last week, I shared a photo from one of our creative meetings here at the Orange offices. Most of the time, when I post a picture of the creative boards we use for our meetings, I get a question or two about them. Where do those boards come from? How do you use them? What do you use them for?
We use these boards for just about everything. Planning our calendars. Mapping the scopes and cycles of our curriculum. Assigning communicators and locations to Orange Conference breakout sessions. And, like I’ll show you today, leading good old fashioned brainstorming sessions.
Last week, I led a creative meeting for our soon-to-be-released XP3 Middle School curriculum. We were brainstorming some creative “extras” for a few upcoming series. So, for those of you who are interested in how these boards might work, I’ll give you a peek at how I used them last week.
Ready? Okay, here we go.
1. GET YOUR SUPPLIES
- Creative boards. Like these, from Storyboard Tools.
- Blank 3×5 cards. Like these, or these.
- Push pins. We like these.
2. DECIDE ON A COLOR CODE
For this meeting, I needed 7 different colors of index cards. First, I used white cards for the headers. Then, since there were 5 different categories of ideas that I wanted us to brainstorm, I assigned a color to each of those 5 categories (pink, orange, yellow, green, blue). And last, I grabbed a stack of purple cards for any extra off-topic ideas that happened to pop up.
3. SET UP YOUR BOARDS
Before you start your meeting, you’ll want to pin headers to your boards. The night before this meeting, I pinned the key to my color code to the top of the board, along with all of my white header cards (the titles of each teaching series, the titles of each message, and the bottom lines for each message).
Pinning these headers before your meeting will help you determine how many boards you’ll need in advance. If you’re using a 4′ x 4′ board, like I was, you can fit a maximum of 8 or 9 index cards, running horizontally, on one board. Since I needed a total of 10 columns, plus some margin in between each series we were brainstorming, I used two boards.
Putting these headers in place ahead of time should also give you the structure you need to keep things running smoothly during your meeting. You definitely want to avoid rearranging or shifting all of your cards in the middle of the brainstorming.
4. GET BRAINSTORMING!
Once you’ve got your board in order, get your meeting going!
As ideas pop up, write each idea on an index cards and pin it to the board. Try to stick to your color code as you go. For a creative brainstorming meeting like the one I was leading last week, we’re fans of the philosophy, “There are no bad ideas.” Even though we won’t use every idea that popped up during the meeting, each idea is valuable – it may not be used this time, but it could be used in the future, or it may serve as a spark for an even better idea.
So as we brainstormed, just about every idea made its way onto the board.
5. TEAR IT DOWN
After your meeting is over, take down all of your index cards. You can sort through them on your own, or with your team, after the meeting. For this particular meeting, I wanted to catalogue the vast majority of the ideas we captured for the future, so I transferred them to a color-coded Excel sheet.
So that’s how the boards work!
They’re really a beautiful thing. A few things I love about them in a brainstorming scenario…
- Because ideas go onto the board in real-time, these boards prevent ideas from being overlooked, misheard, or forgotten. If I missed an idea or two while we talked, someone let me know.
- They keep every idea visible, to everyone, throughout the whole meeting.
- The cards can easily be moved or rearranged as needed. More than once, we came up with an idea related to one series, but later decided it would fit better in another series. So we moved the card. Simple and immediate.
- The color code gives a quick and easy visual of the balance of ideas. If a certain color is under- or over-represented, that means a certain kind of idea is also under- or over-represented.
And that’s about it.
As you can probably tell, I love these boards. You really should give them a try.