Thinking Before Collaborating

Normally, I’m not a huge fan of brainstorming. Besides the fact that it’s not an effective tool for generating ideas, I’ve been in too many settings where one dominating personality takes over the meeting. As someone who needs time to think, I get overwhelmed and then shut down without contributing.

14462845_10154055590273224_8577943402689654064_nLast week, I was able to participate in a “Museum Mashup.” Museums across the country hosted events, either for their educators or for the public, around the theme of museum education. Our team of educators met and spent a morning delving into the idea of “experience.” What makes an experience? How do we draw visitors into the experience of Clyfford Still’s work?

Instead of brainstorming ideas, we were each given 7 minutes to come up with a 3 minute experience based on one of the senses. It was one of the most invigorating mornings! After participating in my colleagues’ experiences, I walked away with quite a few ideas to implement into my next lessons.

It was a reminder that, when given a few minutes to work alone before collaborating, brilliant ideas are formed. Everyone has the opportunity to be heard. We each gave our lesson without building on anyone else’s. Everyone had a chance, no matter the personality type.

One of the things I love about my job is that our education director is passionate about bringing new and well-researched ideas to our department. She is well-read and the way she brings our team together is innovative and allows each person to participate and engage.

When I first started staying home with Bea, I wasn’t sure if or when I would go back to work. I assumed I wouldn’t even start looking until our youngest was in kindergarten. And then, this opportunity arose at the Clyfford Still Museum. Not only did it combine my love for education and art history, it fed my intellection strength: I was on the front end of something new and innovative. There was no trap of we’ve always done it this way. Ideas are welcome and we continually tweak our lessons to make them better.

I still struggle with finding that work-life balance, even in a part-time setting, but I can’t imagine a better place for me and my personality. I’m amazed that I have this opportunity to so fully live out one of my strengths. Whenever the schedule becomes stressful or expectations don’t align with my own, I have to stop and remember what an incredible opportunity this really is.

How do you do in a brainstorming session? Do you find them energizing or overwhelming? What’s your dream job?

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This post is Day 4 of the Write 31 Day Challenge. I’m spending the month of October writing about the StrengthsFinder test. You can find the entire series over at Live Your Strengths page.

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6 thoughts on “Thinking Before Collaborating

  1. Annie, I haven’t really thought of the power of giving a group time to focus their ideas before sharing begins. That really maximizes on each individual’s strength. Brainstorming in a group is not always effective, I agree.

  2. I lean toward the brainstorming. I’ve worked better when I can listen to others, feed off of their energy and jump in. Interesting to note the differences.

  3. I love trying new things but in the church especially people often get caught up in the “We’ve always done it that way” syndrome.

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