Post-Its Prevail

For about a year and a half I've been a member of the Roundtable - a group of employees at UHG that decided they wanted to push the boundaries of innovation. We get together every week and brainstorm, research and pitch new ideas that we can pitch within the business. Our primary principles are Engage, Expose, and Create. Some of our favorite sessions are those that involve ideating, or coming up with new ideas. We have numerous tools and techniques to do this and most seem to involve Post-its.

A typical brainstorming session starts with a focus point like - what is the biggest challenge to finding a doctor. The six of us (or however many show up that day) then scribble fanatically for 5 minutes, writing one idea on each Post-it. Like most brainstorming sessions, it's a mental dump. Anything on your mind should come out. Thinking about cost? Write it down. Don't have transportation? Scribble - "Can't get there." And so on. 
postitsEventually, time runs out and you'll hopefully have a beautiful rainbow of ideas in front of you. What we've found to be helpful is taking each of your Post-its and putting them up on a Whiteboard. From here we will each discuss our problem statements and explain as necessary. Sometimes someone else will have a similar Post-it - just stack them and keep the better option on top. When you have a broad array of topics it's a good idea to group them as you describe your Post-its. You might find you have sections on money, access, aptitude, and friendliness. Since the Post-its are on a Whiteboard, you can bucket items and keep track of relationships easily. 
So there's a small catch that comes at the end of the process. As with all things non-digital, you'll eventually have to transcribe your notes onto your computer or at least take a photo of your board. That will help you track future ideas and ensure you don't miss anything. Of course you should also recycle the Post-its so another group of ideators can use your scraps of paper in the future. The Roundtable has found that this tool allows us to both think expansively as well as to structure concepts in meaningful ways. We enjoy that this process requires standing and moving as it seems to lend itself to higher levels of focus and inspiration. Next time you're looking to solve a problem, grab a few packets of Post-its and get started.