Hacking the Brain for Divergent Thought

Creativity requires a specific state of mind. This workshop covers methods to get your team in the right mindset to move past the easy ideas.

Most “Blue Sky,” “Brainstorming,” and “Ideation” meetings result in mediocre, safe, unimaginative ideas. This, in turn, leads to mediocre, safe, and unimaginative products. Booo.

Internal Product Teams

Instructor & Facilitator

Run a 2 hour workshop to generate next level ideas from the team you already have.

Step 1 // Set the stage

Provide a 15 minute slide deck explaining the science used to optimize the electro-chemical state machine called the brain.

Step 2 // Define a 5 star experience

Use sticky notes, or a digital whiteboard if being done remotely, and start defining what makes a 1 star rated app, then a 2 star etc. all the way up to 5 stars. !star being an utter failure, and 5 star being a total success.

Step 3 // Engage in play

There are a number of different ways to do this. My preference is toward HR compliant stupid jokes told in can’t make me laugh style face off. Or, if being done remote, pictionary with ridiculous subjects can be fun as well. It doesn’t matter what you do here as long as everyone can engage and feel safe enough to laugh with each other.

Step 4 // Take it to 11 (AirBnB 11 star experience)

This is where all of those happy chemicals you’ve flooded your brain with pay off. Start defining what a 6 star experience looks like, then a 7, then 8 all the way up to the absurd at level 11.

Step 5 // Dial it back a notch

Take 10 minutes and identify ideas that might just be possible. Set a timer. Call out the time at regular intervals. This is important as the added stressor of a constricting timebox will change the chemical state in the brain and trigger a more analytical state of processing. Capture these plausible ideas and let them lead you to something great.


“It’s not enough to know the steps to run a workshop; I have to know enough about the science and strategy to adapt it to each situation. I also need to experience it enough to see what resonates. Jac totally delivered today in his workshop. He provided the proper portions of purpose, strategy, and application. I’ll definitely be watching for a chance to attend another one of his workshops.”

Russell ChennaultDesign Lead at STG

Everytime I run this workshop, participants come up with some ambitious and engaging takeaway. But even if that idea ends up being a wash, the participants enjoy themselves in each others company. This exercise is as much about learning how to create an environment of psychological safety as it is about pumping a genius idea out the other side.