How do you help people with varied creative thinking skills perform most productively in a group setting?

We ask ourselves that question regularly, both in a general sense and with specific groups participating in creative thinking sessions we design and facilitate.

If you lead group meetings or teams, you should be asking this question also. If you don’t you’ll waste a lot of your time and others' time fumbling around and hoping they individually, collectively, and spontaneously apply their creative thinking skills in the best possible way to solve whatever challenge you've presented.

From hundreds of formal creativity and strategy sessions and thousands of less formal meetings, here’s how we answer the question. The best way to help people with a wide array of creative thinking skills perform most productively is to provide questions for them to answer.

Sometimes they are simple questions. Other times, the creative thinking questions are more complex or approach an issue from multiple directions.

When you give someone a creative thinking question and some structure, however, you set the stage for people with different perspectives to work together successfully.

Questions and Structure Fostering Creative Thinking Skills

For example, at the Literacy Kansas City strategy session we facilitated, we wanted the group to react (in a constructive, additive way) to in-process planning underway for a new initiative’s launch. After two staff members shared their current plans, we could have moved to a blank flip chart and asked for reactions, which is what happens in most meetings.

Instead, we used the strategy poster in the photo below with targeted creative thinking questions. We designed it to help participants focus on critical success factors, ramifications from implementing a new model, and the metrics needed to measure success. By using multiple questions, people had a target for how they could contribute to the discussion and the planning’s progress.


At the meeting's end, one participant told the group she came to the session intimidated and wondering how she'd be able to contribute. After she saw the collaborative approach, however, she realized she had a lot to contribute throughout the day.

That's a wonderful confirmation for using questions and structure to help people contribute to a productive meeting and a successful strategy.

Next time you're expected to plan a meeting, spend time thinking about how YOU can help participants tap all their creative thinking skills through questions and structure.

Or if it's a high-stakes, big, complex meeting, call us. We’ll do the planning for you to get the results you want! – Mike Brown


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If you’re facing a challenging organizational situation and are struggling to maintain forward progress because of it, The Brainzooming Group can provide a strategic sounding-board for you. We will apply our strategic thinking and implementation tools on a one-on-one basis to help you create greater organizational success. Email us at or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you figure out how to work around your organizational challenges.