It is the common understanding that engineers are not the most talkative and extrovert of people, myself included. Many of you probably know this joke, but I will tell it anyway because it is right to the point.
“How do you tell the extroverted engineer from the introverted engineer?”
“The extroverted engineer is looking at your shoes, the introverted is looking at his own.”
Even though the joke exaggerates my point, it illustrates the fact that most engineers are introverts – somewhere between 55 and 72 percent depending on the source of information. Regardless of the specific distribution, the fact of the matter is that the introverts are often neglected in the creative processes including brainstorms. The reason for this is two-fold: (1) extroverts seem to dominate the ideation scene and (2) facilitators and project managers lack the tools necessary to include introvert participants on par with the extrovert in brainstorming sessions.
Below, 3 great tips on how to run a killer brainstorm for (introvert) engineers:
- Circulate the topic or question before your brainstorm session. Most introverts like to generate ideas without the looming presence of others. Therefore, knowing the challenge in advance is key because it allows them to come prepared with ideas and not feel stampeded by the extroverts (who prefer to riff).
- Go around the circle. If each person gives one idea at a time and no one gets skipped, something great happens. Not only the loudest, but all participants will be heard and feel heard. Also, you ensure that everyone feels that they have a new idea to bring to the table – this increases motivation.
- Share the unfiltered ideas list. If you share the complete and unfiltered list of ideas after the brainstorm either via e-mail or as a Google Doc it will allow for introverts to spend more time on the ideas – you never know which corner of an idea might spark the next great idea for someone else on your team.
For the full list of tips for introverts see these 12 tips by Laura McClure.
About the author
Kasper Friis, Head of User Experience and Design, Technolution A/S
Kasper is an expert in designing coherent products and user experiences across physical and digital platforms, that meets user needs, are feasible, and viable. In addition to his design and engineering background, Kasper has more than seven years of experience with product design, and holds a masters degree in Interaction Design and Multimedia.