Thinking Outside the Box – Brainstorming for Student Leadership

Be Open to Off-the-Wall, Outside-the-Box Thinking and Ideas

Student Leadership Thinking outside the boxMatthew, a student at a small liberal arts college in the Midwest wrote me that whenever his Resident Life group gets together to solve problems, they start by playing creative games, like charades or categories to get them started in thinking outside the box.

“It limbers up our brains,” he wrote. “Then, we have a fun brainstorming session. We write out the question, like ‘What’s the best way to get more students involved in dorm activities?’ and then we all toss out ideas. We get going really fast with all these off-the-wall answers. It’s funny and fun. When we’re done, we come back to all those ideas and start putting the best answers to work for us.”

Who are we to squash brilliance that comes in unexpected forms?

When you’re brainstorming the best way to accomplish a goal or to solve a problem, keep it in the true spirit of a brainstorming session.

Ideally, you’ll have five to seven people, more is okay, if you must, but consider breaking students into more than one group.

Put the question on the table. For example, you may want to ask, “What’s the best way to raise money to hire a speaker for our group’s next national conference?”

Start the tape or digital recorder and let the ideas fly. No second-guessing, judging, or discussing the ideas as they flow. Consider having everyone stand up and toss a ball around randomly. If you catch the ball, you throw out an idea as you toss the ball.

Students, remember that when you think outside the box, You’ll come up with fun, crazy, brilliant ideas, and lots of them every time.

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