Ideas For Breakfast: Stop brainstorming and R.I.G. instead

Hands holding sparklers

Brainstorming is over 70 years old, so it’s about time we think beyond the post-it round table when it comes to intelligent problem-solving. That’s why Charity Counts, Founder of XG Exhibit Management and Tricia O’Connor, Experience Developer, believe so strongly in the power of Rapid Idea Generation (R.I.G.). They sat down to discuss this ingenious ideation technique with Oldspeake CMO, Despi Ross at our most recent Ideas for Breakfast.

Charity has worked in the museum space in primarily a professional development and project management-esque role for the majority of her professional career. As a project manager, she always ran into situations with teams where the project would stall and then the team manager needed to reignite the creative spirit of the team. Your run-of-the-mill brainstorming session just wasn’t cutting it sometimes. Tricia, who has a background in education, saw that teams who sought out solutions in 3D were able to think more concretely about actionable ideas.

So what the heck is a RIG?

Rapid Idea Generation or R.I.G. is a quick ideation activity that helps teams to find solutions through hands-on, collaborative work. The fast paced nature of a R.I.G. removes the barrier of overthinking so you can get right into the meat of the problem. Through their experiences in leading these sessions, both Tricia and Charity have seen how it produces really unique results that wouldn’t have been possible without the R.I.G.

Follow these five steps to get started with your very first R.I.G.:

  1. Plan teams in advance with 3-4 teams of 3-4 people. Make sure a variety of disciplines are represented on each team.
  2. Gather the teams into a working session. Give them a specific problem to solve and include any relevant constraints so they don’t waste time on details that won’t work.
  3. Allow all teams to work for 15-20 minutes building a prototype solution to solve the problem.
  4. Each team presents their idea to the group.
  5. Repeat! Shuffle the team members to form new teams and ask each team to come up with new solutions that iterate on the editing ideas or present entirely new ones.

Not a free for all

While free-flowing ideation is a part of R.I.G., it is still essential for the facilitators to clarify goals and constraints. This might include defining an audience, or a cost constraint. These aren’t hard and fast rules but more of a road map for teams to use when working towards a solution. Another important parameter for a healthy R.I.G. session is ensuring that everyone has a space at the table. Include people from production, include higher management, and every one in between. Despi reminded team leaders that “there is so much missed opportunity when the people who are building a thing aren’t a part of the ideation process”, so give voice to those people throughout the R.I.G. process.

But what about *social distancing*?

Collaboration is not dead just because we aren’t able to gather around the same physical table. Charity and Tricia have been able to lead people through a R.I.G. session virtually by making use of Zoom’s breakout rooms. Breakout rooms let teams work in smaller groups, simulating the same feel of small in-person teamwork. Additionally, by sending out mailing packets of supplies ahead of time, you can ensure every team member has access to the same base materials. As people are virtually collaborating, you can also assign sub-roles within each team to help preserve an efficient workflow. If you’re wary of facilitating this yourself, Charity and Tricia are ready, willing, and able to provide that service to you and your team. Learn more on the XG Exhibits website.