For today’s Tooltip Tuesday, here’s a David Letterman-style Top 10 list on how to keep a brainstorming session on track:
- Quantity not Quality
When brainstorming, the goal is to express as many ideas as possible very quickly. Do not self-censor or hesitate before offering an idea. A free exchange is what can help bring the most brilliant ideas to the surface.
- Write Everything Down
Assign one person per team to write down all of the ideas on a large sheet of easel pad paper that can be seen by all participants. Make sure that someone in the room is then in charge of typing up all the ideas within 24 hours of the session.
- Negativity Cramps Creativity
All ideas should be welcome and no one (leader or participant) should issue any type of verbal criticism toward an idea presented, no matter how off base it may seem at the time. This will help keep the environment supportive and help to encourage everyone to take part in the process.
- Time’s Up!
For fertile idea generation, set a time limit. Great ideas are best served when you force your brain to work on a rapid-fire basis, rather than allowing it time to overthink.
- Change of Scenery
The best brainstorming and idea generation often happen in new surroundings. So, leave the all-too-familiar conference room behind and meet somewhere new! Getting away from the office helps the brain focus 100% on the task at hand. Plus, it makes it more difficult for you to be pulled away!
- Small Groups
Brainstorming works best when a large group is broken down into small groups of five people. When a group is too large, some attendees may not feel as comfortable participating, or worse, they just check out and let the other guests do the work.
- Divergent Thinking
Use multiple forms of external stimuli to generate a long list of random thoughts, words and feelings. You can find these external stimuli through photo association, scavenger hunts, line drawings, or even by just looking out the window!
- Convergent Thinking
Provide the guests with a clearly articulated task. Guests should never be given the task in advance, or the “diverge” portion of the process will be compromised. Ask the guests to use the long list of random thoughts, words and feelings as “spring boards” to solve the task at hand. Not everything on the random list of words will work, so just focus on the words that are easily transformed into ideas.
- Physical Movement
Most facilitators hugely underestimate this one. It‘s CRUCIAL that you get people “into action”. Let them search for something, do something, but get them OUT of their chairs.
- Have Fun!
Brainstorming has to be fun! It’s a great way to boost morale among employees and help them to feel part of the decision-making process.