I was at an event recently at my clients’ office.

My client is doing a lot right when it comes to creating a diverse and inclusive work culture.

They call it out on their website, in their job postings and throughout their office space.

They have flexible hours, unlimited paid time off and other benefits that support a life outside of work so women (and men) have a chance to work in ways that best fits the cadence of their life.

Though this event was not being held by my client they did host it, so the sales and marketing leader got to say a few words before their chef (who cooks lunch onsite, every week day, for their team) served our healthy and delicious meal.

She talked about what the company did of and then she talked about a technique leadership uses for inclusion that starts with 3 opinions.

A Cool Way to Run an Inclusive Brainstorming Session

When a leader, called the host, (could be leader of the organization, project leader, leader of a department or any person on the team with an idea worth exploring) has an idea they want to explore and they get everyone together they set the agenda for the meeting.

The host’s goal is to ask questions and get ideas flowing.

Because they are in a position of power as the host they are allowed just 3 Opinion Cards that they can play at any point in order to spark more conversation or other ideas.

The host will also pass out other cards empowering others in the meeting to take on certain roles like The Parking Lot Attendant who keeps the team on topic, The Devil’s Advocate whos’ job it is to give counter ideas and encourage others to do the same or The Angel’s Advocate whose role would be to encourage others ideas and build on them.

Other cards passed out could include Speak Up or Too Much Side Chatter.

The overall goal is to give everyone a voice, to challenge people to do things outside their comfort zone and to ensure that the person in the power position does not bias the group or drive their ideas forward because they are the most passionate or the loudest.

By only being able to give 3 opinions in the process the host must be think deliberately about when and how to use their Opinion Cards.

As a leader myself, with many ideas, this process allows me to bring a still forming possibility to light and gives me the benefit of using diverse wisdom to vet the idea for marketability or viability etc. without just doing it because I thought of it or said so.

Which is one of the major benefits of one having a diverse team. People who see things from their perspective, which, cannot be your perspective, bring far more options and ideas then 1 person could.

  • Does this idea have legs?
  • Should we put resources behind developing this idea?
  • Are there gaps or flaws that need consideration?
  • Is there an even better idea?

The team explores the options and offers their own.

During the discussion, if the person holding the “You’re on a Tangent” card feels that someone is off topic they simply hold up the card. The conversation gets back on track, no hard feelings.

And then greatness.

Team cohesion – Team empowered – Bad ideas uncovered – Missteps avoided – Voices heard – Ideas acted upon – Inclusion and Belonging.

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