We all want to see a magic trick.

When it comes to business, for all our talk of strategy and research, what we really want – is to be amazed by something. To be seven-years-old and feel the gasp of realization that comes with discovering something new.

For years, I’ve conducted thinking sessions as conversations. They’ve been pretty straightforward, following a process I created to define and solve problems. Typically, I get good feedback from these sessions and we generate strong ideas.

About a year ago, I decided to do something a little different.

I was in a big PR firm and started to talk about this idea for an annual strategy. The firm had a 15-foot-long whiteboard. Over the course of two hours, I facilitated and filled up that board a bit at a time. A “parking lot” here. A table of strateiges over there. That session was electric and by the end, we had a complete strategy, and a room full of beaming people.

The whiteboard allowed the session to become more than disparate ideas in discussion. The visual elements put us all on a journey – and seeing it come together elevated the conversation in a huge way.

Today, I’m using a similar process to what I did before – with one huge twist. I make these sessions feel like a show. I use technology like Popplet. I create giant white boards using oversized Post it notes. I’m facilitating like I’m hosting a big event.

The feedback I’m getting is staggering. The ideas are on par with what teams would produce during a simple conversation, but the teams themselves feel amazing. My last session ended in both a round of applause and a Thank You note from a grateful client.

This is my magic trick and I think I’m onto something here.

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