In nearly every Brainzooming community collaboration workshop, we conclude with a Plus-Minus-Interesting-Recommendation-Question exercise (a PMIRQ for short). Originating from an Edward De Bono technique we learned from Chuck Dymer, the PMIRQ asks five open-ended questions on what worked (Plus), didn’t work (Minus), was surprising (Interesting), should be done next time (Recommendation), and didn’t get fully addressed (Question). The open-ended questions in a PMIRQ allow participants to share invaluable reactions and ideas; we use them directly to shape what we do in future innovation workshops.

Based on the large number of responses to the individual PMIRQ handout sheets at the Southern Illinois University and Carbondale, IL community visioning session workshops, we wanted to share what people found “interesting” about participating in a community collaboration workshop.

41 Surprising Things about Community Collaboration Done Well

Here, in the words of attendees, are the things that surprised them about spending several hours imagining the future in a community visioning session.

New People Coming Together Collaboratively and Effectively

  • “The vast knowledge being brought together was beyond expectations.”
  • “Small unknown group collaboration”
  • “The team interaction”
  • “Group work”
  • “Placing us with people we don't know”
  • “I was thinking I may not be as included since I'm not from or otherwise generally associated with (the community).”
  • “Working with people from diverse backgrounds.”
  • “Collaboration was so easy with the group that I was with.”

Fresh  Ideas and Learning

  • “The ideas that came up.”
  • “The different ideas we shared.”
  • “Ideas I had never considered.”
  • “I thought about something I'd never thought of before that could benefit from high speed.”
  • “New and thought provoking ideas.”
  • “Thinking of ideas for different categories.”
  • “Brainstorming for technological advancements”
  • “Talking to people - learning new things about the community I live in.’
  • “Learned a lot”



  • “Met new professional who reside here (I'd) never met before.”
  • “Great to see so many people get together to work on this. They started out as strangers and became friends.”
  • “Development of new relationships and possible partnerships.”
  • “I met a lot of new people from my own community, and I made several introductions.”
  • “Lots of people I did not know.”

Unexpectedly Enjoyable

  • “This was a lot of fun!”
  • “Very enjoyable and fun. Not just a lecture.”
  • “Didn't know what to expect. Great collaboration.”
  • “I didn't expect toys.”

Effective Exercises and Process

  • “One of best group brainstorming sessions in a long time.”
  • “Loved the Boom / Bust exercise.”
  • “Good subject materials and posters.”
  • “The use of table posters and post-its is a great idea and unique.”
  • “The shorter time frame worked well.”
  • “Collection method of ideas was good.”
  • “Process used.”
  • “Exercises presented to gain focus on a certain area.”
  • “The process and the questions. Have participated in many of these exercises and this was different in a positive way.”
  • “A bunch of brainstorming.”
  • “Required a lot of critical thinking”

Discovering Shared Thinking

  • “Concepts that were more universal to the table than thought.”
  • “Many of the same themes / concepts were universally recognized.”
  • “I realized things that would work for my organization as well as the community as a whole. I will try to implement these ideas within my organization.”
  • “So many of the ideas shared can benefit any organization in our community. The question about what we wish people knew about our community really identified our values and strengths as a community.”

What an incredible range of comments!

It’s often a challenge to describe what Brainzooming is to people that haven't participated directly in collaborative strategy or innovation workshops. It's such a foreign idea to most people that you can invite more than a couple of people together to collaborate and actually have an incredibly productive experience.

Thanks to all of our new friends in Carbondale for providing their comments to help us communicate why there's nothing quite like a Brainzooming community collaboration workshop until you experience it!

If you want your community - no matter whether it is an organizational, customer, or civic community - to collaborate in envisioning the future, contact us at or call us at 816-509-5320. We definitely have the experience and proven processes to bring your community together productively and successfully! – Mike Brown

10 Lessons for Engaging Your Community to Create Stronger Results

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Leaders are looking for ways to create robust and productive collaboration within their communities. In short they need to cultivate strategic thinking to imagine the future and the strategies need to capitalize on opportunities on the horizon.

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