Brainstorming is an essential tool to problem solving. We do it everyday in our non-work lives. For example, where should we go to eat? What should we do this weekend?
However, at work, we sometimes erect barriers to using brainstorming. The goals and processes need to be clear in order to attain our direct results. The output should be solutions to the problems that are presented.
Here are some brainstorming tips:
1. Avoid passing judgment of others’ ideas.
2. Think differently than usual.
3. Take an idea and improve, modify or build around it.
4. Quantity is more important than quality.
5. No idea is a bad idea.
6. Have a welcoming environment.
7. Suggest your idea and move on. Do not become an advocate for a point.
8. Listen to the ideas of others with an open mind.
9. Have a large whiteboard or lots of paper sheets to tape or stick on the walls.
10. Focusing the group on the whiteboard or sheets of paper on the wall focuses everyone on the common problem(s), not each other.
11. Be careful about the levels of authority in the room. Entry-level staff may not speak their mind in front of Vice Presidents.
12. Consider using brainstorming techniques that are “silent” and encourage everyone to participate. Examples might include mind mapping and affinity diagrams.
13. Consider a blended approach. Begin with a “silent” exercise and then open it up to a roundtable of adding ideas.
14. For geographically diverse or technical groups consider using Wikis.
After completing brainstorming exercises, make sure all participants are acknowledged, ask for their feedback on the process and how to improve it.
Those are the ideas. What do you say?
1. What else would you add to the list?
2. What have been your brainstorming experiences?
3. How does your organization utilize brainstorming?
Copyright 2011 by Rob Berman