Effective Brainstorming – A Call for Crazy Ideas
Two heads, or three, or six, are better than one. Why? Because team brainstorming is not only an effective way to solve problems, it’s motivating and exciting as well. Brainstorming inspires creativity and collaboration you might not otherwise see from employees. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of brainstorming.
Sharpen the Focus
Define your problem statement before you start. Don’t make it so detailed that it limits spontaneity, but identify the problem and your objectives. This will help keep the group on track.
Then Mix Things Up
Don’t just invite a bunch of like-minded people to the session. Include those who might think differently about the issue. Diversity of thought will add a little lightning to your brainstorm.
Create an inviting, informal environment. You don’t need to meet in a conference room. Standing sessions allow people to “think on their feet.” And online participation often gives less confident individuals a better chance to express themselves.
Hit The Groung Running
Be sure to brew coffee, bring in food, and set up white boards, easel pads, and flip charts ahead of time.
Ground Rules & Guidelines
Here are a few ideas to make sure you get the most from your group brainstorm:
- Defer judgment and encourage wild ideas
- Make it clear that no idea is too outlandish to consider
- Ask each person to write ideas down, then discuss them as a group
- Focus on one conversation at a time, but keep things moving
- Keep your session short, or break it into multiple sessions
- Recap the discussion, rank ideas, and list next steps
- Designate someone to take notes or record the meeting
After The Session
Here are a few tools to help you optimize and organize your information once your brainstorming is complete:
- Affinity Diagrams – Organizes information and ideas into common themes.
- Paired Comparison Analysis – An “apples to apples” assessment of different options.
- Decision Matrix Analysis – The Pugh matrix evaluates alternatives against a baseline
A well organized brainstorming session can be a fun, fast-paced way to develop ideas. And collaboration encourages people to follow through on solutions because they shared in their development.