Silence delivers great thinking

Here in London we all seem a little bit lost – and quite sad too. We’ve had a seven-year build up to the Olympics and after six weeks of amazing action, it’s all finished. We had the athlete’s parade through the city on Monday – and that was the big finale, so now it’s all over. What are we going to do? What do we talk about? What do we watch on television?

As an example of the TeamGB hysteria that swept the country, my wife has never been a great sports fan, but to see her bouncing on the sofa screaming ‘Come on Mo’ at the top of her voice during the men’s 5,000 metre final took me by complete surprise. The news shots of the general public who were viewing the games on big screens in public areas provided similar scenes of incredible emotional outpouring.

So what’s the equivalent of this for a thinking environment? In my opinion it’s absolute silence. In a brainstorming session there is always a voice talking about an idea – which disables your mental ability to make new neural connections and to come up with new ideas.

One technique that we use is BrainCalming where a small group works in silence except for the facilitator who is whispering relevant triggers to stimulate thinking. The reason that the triggers are whispered is that if you need some stimulus, you can tune in to the whispers and use them to build new ideas, but if your mind is busy making its own connections, then the whispers are easily ignored.

I once ran a series of ten 2-hour sessions using this technique which helped a financial services client to develop some brilliant new customer propositions. I had arranged for 6-8 people to be in each session, but by the end of the cycle there were 19 people turning up as the ones who had attended earlier sessions told others of the successes being generated and they themselves returned to do more.

The equivalent of a noisy stadium cheering on the athletes is the crescendo of silence when our minds chase new mental connections and we are stimulated by the number of fresh and powerful new ideas we come up with. If you want to go for gold, then stop using brainstorming and start giving your minds some silence in which to work their magic.

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