When done right, brainstorming can produce better results.
Group brainstorming is one of the most effective techniques that can be used to generate ideas. In fact, experts agree that a properly managed brainstorming session can produce inspiring ideas and proposals that may be useful in identifying potential solutions to a problem.
However, not all brainstorming sessions produce the desired results. When these sessions are not managed properly, they can be nothing but a terrible waste of everyone’s time. So, how can you get the best possible results from your collective thinking sessions? Here are some useful ideas that may help you get just what you need.
Set expectations. Define the goals of the activity and provide all relevant information a day before the session to give your team ample time to prepare. Ask them to list their ideas down on paper so you don’t have to start from scratch. You should likewise encourage individual brainstorming an hour before the session to make sure everyone comes up with unique and interesting ideas.
Assemble the right team. Studies show that too many participants render brainstorming sessions ineffective so make sure your team is composed of seven people or less. For best results, choose people from diverse backgrounds and disciplines.
Follow the rules. Keep in mind that the best ideas are generated when the team abides by the rules. So, encourage and welcome all ideas no matter how unusual they may be. Aim for quantity over quality. Do not allow criticisms to reduce tension within the team, allow people to combine and build on each other’s ideas, and make sure everyone contributes fully by carefully drawing non-contributors into the conversation.
Document everything. Write down every idea and try to develop them before moving on. Publish them on paper or on a screen to give your team members the time and space they need to generate fresh ideas any time during the session.
Take some time off. Give your team at least 10 minutes of silence to process the ideas on the screen. This will give them enough time to form their own conclusions.
Choose the right setting. If your office does not provide the right environment, conduct the brainstorming session in a different venue. Pick a setting that encourages your team to think and unleash their creative prowess.
Focus. It is very easy to get carried away but you need to keep your team focused on the objectives of the activity.
Consider getting outside help. Ask people outside your team to provide inputs during your sessions to introduce new perspectives into the discussions.
Follow these suggestions and you will surely have a successful brainstorming session.