Brainstorming: Top 7 Tips
1. Proper Preparation. Make sure you have a clear idea of the session’s purpose. Too often, brainstorming sessions get off target because a clear agenda has not been outlined. Remember, creativity is best facilitated if participants are provided with some parameters ahead of time.
2. Select a facilitator for the session. An outsider, who has nothing to gain or lose from the results, is best. Next, pick a manageable size group of six to nine people from varied backgrounds, age and job responsibilities. Consider an off-site location to help make the point that you are not looking for the usual thinking that happens at your place of business.
3. Generate, Don’t Denigrate. I saw this phrase “Generate, Don’t Denigrate” in an article years ago and it has stuck with me because it is so important to the process. This is where most brainstorming goes wrong. Your mission is to generate ideas without commenting, criticizing, or offering opinions. You don’t want to slow down the process or make participants skittish about sharing their ideas. Just crank the ideas out ideas, then record them somewhere so you can go back later to discuss, combine, or weed out. You are going for quantity. This is the best way to get great ideas. Typically, when adults are asked for ideas, they come up with 6 – 8 on the subject. Children will generate 50 or more. Your job is to think like a kid.
4. Suspend judgment. No criticizing or discussing an idea. As people express ideas, they are simply recorded. This can be done on post-its, lap-tops or flip charts but don’t find fault or make comments, as this slows the process of idea flow. A good way to avoid criticism is to have participants write ideas down and hand them to the facilitator. This ensures that no one knows who came up with the idea.
5. Go for quantity. Quantity leads to quality in brainstorms so don’t stop until you have a large number of ideas – typically 60 to 100 or more.
6. Go beyond reason. Wild ideas are useful because they challenge boundaries and provoke other fresh ideas. It is easier to tame a wild idea than to inject something radical into a bland one
7. Piggyback. When one person suggests a creative concept others should chip in with extensions, developments and specific ways to make it happen. Piggyback on each other’s notions.
For more creativity tips, pick up my book, Born Creative.