Even before I joined the Denver Peak Academy, I was in love with the concept and abilities of the Idea Tree; one of Denver Peak Academy’s most powerful tools. It is one the fastest, most dynamic, and effective ways to gather and keep brainstorming ideas.


In the picture above, Andy Rees and Drew Brown collaborate via the Idea Tree to develop new approaches to some of Denver Peak Academy’s process issues.


First, the “Idea Tree” is simple to make. It requires very few materials. Idea Trees need a piece of flip-chart paper, whiteboard or reusable surface. They also require post-its or sticky/tac-able paper, and markers (any kind will do). It can be set up and used within minutes.

The Idea Tree
As seen in the picture, Idea Trees can gather small to broad ideas and the use of colored dots can help a team set improvement priorities.

Moreover, the “Idea Tree” gives everybody a voice. After being introduced, the Idea Tree doesn’t need a facilitator. By leveraging post-its and markers instead of our voices during an Idea Tree session, we allow passive voices to be heard, valued and recognized. You can gather ideas from your team or customers passively about whatever you want (pros versus cons, mission statements or innovative approaches to solve a problem). Best of all, the Idea Tree is the final documentation of the brainstorming event and is easy to store or turn into a digital document (via a photo for example).


Above, Robert Peek, Christi Ng, Drew Brown, and Andy Rees use the Idea Tree/Brainstorming Method of idea contribution to prioritize the things they do not like about one of the Peak Academy processes. This will help them identify and scope out the problem(s) they’re solving.

Thus, in my opinion (and most of Denver Peak Academy’s Black Belts), an Idea Tree is the perfect brainstorming tool. Idea Trees ensure that you and your team or customers have a better and more effective brainstorming session. The Idea Tree is simple, fast, and inclusive. It gives everybody a voice and value. Plus, it creates a “psychologically safe space” (Charles Duhigg) and boosts collaboration. But most importantly, it’s essential to driving and sustaining a team to innovate, elevate, and repeat. 



Pictured are the reflections of an improvement effort/sprint. They gave the team insight into what worked and did not work during their last project’s execution. These candid insights help the team to avoid any problems that occurred during the previous plan, as well as leverage the things that went well or helped the team to achieve any measure of their goal.

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