#5 The brains of the crowd

Favorite Brainstorming Crowd-Sourcing Activities

These are two activities that we did with both small and large (over 100 people) groups. People learn to let go of their ideas…to not worry about the “authorship” — stop saying “that’s my idea.” These are both great ways to harness the smarts of the crowd — collectively a group can process a lot of ideas and evaluate them.

A. The Envelope Game

Topics used for a Sales Leadership innovation session.

… this is a brainstorming crowd-sourcing game.

Short instructions. Each team is given an envelope and with a different topic to brainstorm. They put ideas on index cards and then return the cards to the envelope. They trade envelopes with another team and then brainstorm that new topic. This continues for several rounds. On the final round, the team receives and envelope and this time opens it up. They are given a criteria by which to sort through all the ideas in the envelope and come up with the 3 best ones. Thus, you have many people giving input into each topic as well as assessing the ideas. Here’s full instructions.

Comparing which idea is best

B. Thirty-five (35)

… Another brainstorming, crowd-sourcing game. We ran this in crowds as large as 500! Similar in spirit to the envelope game, yet the crowd will boil all the ideas down to the top winning ones.

Short instructions. In this exercise, each team brainstorms a topic. Every individual selects their favorite idea and writes it on a card (just one idea per person). Everyone in the room trades cards multiple times so that most people have a card that is not theirs. They pair up with a partner and decide which idea is better.

They have 7 points to award between the two cards (7–0, 6–1, 5–2, 4–3) depending on how strong they think each idea is. This continues for five rounds. Thus, each card ends up with five numbers on it (with the highest total being 35).

After round five, the numbers are added and then the facilitator asks participants to group together based on the score of their card

Creating the human histogram with our 300 participants in London.
Top ten ideas shared on-stage.

…thus you can find those holding cards with high points…and great ideas! Full instructions here.

In both of these exercises, people learn to cast off their ideas and to see whether or not they float to the top. Tons of fun and high energy too!

(these are two of the games learned at the Thiagi workshop and from Rich Cox and William Hall)