We have probably all been in these sessions, called Brainstorming, where, all or not helped by a consultant, we had to throw out our collective treasures of thought only to see them criticized by other participants or one’s manager and the outcome usually resulted in the list of obvious approaches that sort of resulted in something in the past.
Research shows that if you hear an approach from someone else, it will guide your thinking and stop the creative flow. There is however value in hearing and learning about each other’s ideas so that you can build on them. So what to do?
The following approach is one that will yield the best success.
Start the session by explaning the purpose of the Brainstorm and the process that you will follow.
Next present each participant with a list and ask them to write down their ideas about the case in question.
Collect all the lists and then go over them one by one and have the originator explain or present the idea, allowing the other participants only to ask questions for clarification. This is important as you don’t want to get into discussions about the feasability of the idea but want to have as many ideas as possible presented and clarified.
Once all ideas have been presented you can do a verbal round, asking all to reflect on their ideas and what they have heard and present any additional thoughts.
Finally you thank all participants for their time and commitment and take away your notes with all the ideas. In the days, weeks, months following you can then organize the ideas and research the feasablity.
This approach will keep the meeting productive and fun and will produce most results. Participants may be eager to find out what happened with their ideas so ensure you have a feedbackloop to them so you can present to them the progress of the project.
Let me know how this works for you or if you have additional ideas about brainstorming we can share with the readers.