Sleepless Nights, Inspired Mornings, and Guinea Pigs. Creating Gainstorming® was a Labor of Love.
It was 2009, I had just completed two-and-a-half decades of successful service in visual communications, marketing, and new product development. I fantasized about discovering the next chapter in my life. So I began searching ... for something ... anything that might inspire a new idea.
One day, mid 2010, this search led me to a book, Making Ideas Happen, by Scott Belsky:
"Ideas don’t happen because they are great—or by accident. The misconception that great ideas inevitably lead to success has prevailed for too long. Whether you have the perfect solution for an everyday problem or a bold new concept for a creative masterpiece, you must transform vision into reality. Far from being some stroke of creative genius, this capacity to make ideas happen can be developed by anyone."
– Scott Belsky
Two lines: “the perfect solution for an everyday problem” and “the capacity to make ideas happen can be developed by anyone,” got me thinking. Was there an everyday problem I could find the perfect solution for?
Not satisfied with the first things that came into my head. I thought long and hard (six months) about what it could be.
Then one morning it hit me.
I hated unproductive meetings. The ones that went too long. The ones where people talked on and on and on and on about irrelevant things. The ones where you stop listening and start thinking about what your life might be like if you weren’t in that meeting. The ones with no actions or decisions to agree on at the end. The ones with... [fill in the uncomfortable blank].
Like most of us, I’d been in unproductive meetings, and I’d been in incredibly productive meetings. What was it that happened in the great ones that didn’t happen in the bad ones, and whatever that was, could it become a repeatable thing?
The first step was to research meeting models that already existed. All had very valid solutions, but there was something missing. They were either too complicated or, unfortunately, took too long so were not something you’d want to do at every meeting.
I discovered it’s not just about having an agenda. It’s not just about starting and ending on time. It’s not just about standing up instead of sitting down. It's not just about having the right people in the room ...
It’s about Good FOCUS (vs. Bad FOCUS).
I’ve not been in an unproductive meeting since 2011.
A surprising system was born, now known as the Gainstorming Focused Thinking Toolkit.
Yvonne Wilcox is a creative director, systems designer, and founder of the Gainstorming Focused Thinking Toolkit, a ten-year R&D project dedicated to finding shortcuts to Good Focus.