How to (successfully) Brainstorm

Everyone is looking for more ideas.

Ideas on how to better serve customers. Ideas on how to make the organization more successful. Ideas on how to solve issues and problems. Ideas on how to reach goals. Ideas on how to take advantage of opportunities.Ideas on how to create products and services that work. Ideas on how to refine systems and procedures.

Everyone is looking for more ideas.

One method for creating ideas that is frequently used is the brainstorm session. Many times, the thing we call “brainstorming” is simply setting around in a group and tossing around conversation.

Today, I want to share with you some techniques you can use to have a successful brainstorming session. There are several formulas and strategies that can be used in brainstorming, here are just a few simple ones you can implement to get better results.

  1. Create a clear outcome statement

One of the reasons we experience failure in our projects is our lack of preparation. So, one of the ways we can set ourselves up for success in a brainstorming session is to clearly define what we will have when we are finished. A statement that is a clear vision of what we are there to achieve. Everyone knows what the goal is and we what are moving toward during the session.

  1. Establish a rule of no negotiating, no critique and no evaluation during the session

There’s no need for participants to spend their time negotiating with one another over the ideas they have. This deters the session. After all, the objective is to create ideas, not navigate them. Also, save the negativity, critique & evaluation for later. You’ll have plenty of time to look at the ideas later. This is one of the most difficult rules for the participants to follow during the session, so you need a good facilitator who is not actually brainstorming to keep the session going in the right direction. If a participant becomes too negative or judgmental about the ideas, the facilitator may want to put them into “time out”, in order to save the session.

  1. Set a time limit

A set amount of time makes everyone’s brains work better. This works brilliantly on game shows where a contestant has only a short amount of time to deliver the answer. If the brainstorming session is allowed to go on until everyone falls over dead, you’ll find that most of the great ideas expired a long time ago. There are so many different techniques you can use regarding time in a brainstorming session to make them productive and to get results on demand.

  1. Record ALL the ideas

Make sure someone is in charge of recording all the ideas. You want as many as possible, make sure you lose none. The ones you might have judged bad before, may be the sparkling diamond you need after refining it.

  1. Keep the group small

Less than 10 is good. Around 7 might be perfect, not counting your recorder person or your facilitator.

Try these and see if your brainstorming meetings produce more results. Remember, keep the good ideas coming!

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