23 Feb Making the most of your brainstorming sessions
If you have a challenge that needs a creative solution or a new idea, brainstorming can be an exceptionally effective way to go about getting it. A good brainstorming session can result in a multitude of new and unexpected ideas for any issue.
Brainstorming makes a team capable of bringing together many new and unexpected ideas and is a valuable tool for problem-solving.
To simplify, brainstorming begins by gathering a group of people in a preferably relaxed and inspiring environment and encourage them to generate as many ideas and solutions about the specific topic as possible. Then, when this step is finished, you decide which idea or ideas work the best for your needs. The key is that the atmosphere should be one where the members of the brainstorming session act in an open and accepting way, since people with very creative or radical ideas may be intimidated about putting them forth. For unexpected ideas and solutions, usually the best group of people for brainstorming is one made up of individuals from many different departments and backgrounds, as they may be able to bring different perspectives and skills to the session.
Begin the meeting with the main goal or issue. If you need different perspectives, such as a marketing perspective vs. sales perspective, etc., or a visionary or worst case scenario perspective, make sure that these roles are assigned. This is one way to create more dynamic and different viewpoints in the brainstorming sessions.
One way to start off a brainstorming session is to begin by writing down your main idea or topic on a sheet of paper and placing it in the center of the table where everyone in the group can see it. It can sometimes be easy to drift off-topic when brainstorming, so this may help everyone to stay focused on the question at hand.
Next, encourage every participant to write down at least two ideas on their own pieces of paper. Have everyone in the group presents one at a time, making sure that everyone gets a chance to say what they have written down. This is also an important method if there are members of the group who are shy and less likely to yell out their idea if the brainstorming session wasn’t structured and became a free-for-all.
When all the random thoughts have been exhausted, use prompt questions such as why, who, what and where, or comparisons, to encourage everyone to think in different ways. Never say no or rule out ideas during the brainstorming phase. A seemingly ridiculous idea could spawn an extremely useful and creative one, so save all judgment until the very end of the meeting.
If possible, take breaks and change your environment for new inputs and inspiration. A change of perspective that a walk or simply leaving the room can provide can be enough to break thinking patterns.
Finally, connect the ideas, organize them into subtopics, and connect them to the goal of the brainstorming session. It will help you to decide which ideas are related and which ones are worth keeping. Brainstorming is a valuable and multi-purpose tool that can be used for almost any situation where fresh ideas are needed. Using brainstorming in a way that maximizes its potential is also a great method for problem-solving and encouraging creativity.