Brainstorming Rules for Critical Brainstorming Sessions
I have had the opportunity recently of observing several brainstorming sessions. Solid brainstorming rules could have made all the difference in these sessions, if the facilitator had been aware of them.
In one brainstorming session I observed the facilitator, in this case the project manager, allowing others to shoot down many ideas in the defense of their own ideas. In another brainstorming session the facilitator, in this case the boss, made a variety of facial expressions for every idea presented. If he didn’t like something, the team knew it.
Clear and agreed upon brainstorming rules are the foundation to creative problem solving and idea generation. Without them the team or groups ideas and problem solving are in jeopardy of mediocrity. All brainstorming sessions must include them.
One sees great things from the valley, only small things from the peak. ~G.K. Chesterton
Here are 5 critical brainstorming rules for your next critical brainstorming session:
1. Clearly state the problem. If the problem isn’t clear, the solutions won’t be either. People will be less inclined to participate as well. Ensure you check for understanding once the problem has been stated.
2. Create a safe environment. Brainstorming is a risk taking type of adventure. I have been in a number of brainstorming sessions in which the idea that may have sounded silly at first, ended up becoming the idea that was adopted. Participants need to feel safe in providing ideas that they feel the team may not agree with. Creating a safe environment will depend on your reaction as the facilitator and the expectations that you set at the start. Ensure people understand that every idea has potential value and the team and group should not be critical during the brainstorming session phase.
3. Build on ideas. There is great power in building on ideas. Encourage participants during the brainstorming session to build on others ideas and help them understand that it will fuel greater creativity and out of the box thinking.
4. Focus on quantity of ideas over quality. Quality will come as you focus on quantity. The more ideas provided, the better chance that you will produce a more creative and effective solution. Abiding by the three brainstorming rules above will help you generate a greater quantity of ideas from your team or group.
5. Have fun! Brainstorming sessions ought to be fun. Bring out the food, play music or put office toys out on the table. The more fun you have, the greater participation and ideas you will get.
What other ideas or brainstorming rules do you have for better brainstorming sessions? Please comment below. Thanks!
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