Why brainstorming? It’s fun and a high-energy way to get ideas out of the people you work with. It’s also a great way to create teamwork, spirit, and garner fast results.
So, how do you build a culture of brainstorming? That’s the fun part…
Practice Makes Perfect
Practice your brainstorming skills until they become perfect. A great opportunity for practice is to sponsor lunchtime brainstorming sessions every two weeks, which will help build brainstorming muscle memory.
The Right People
Recruit individuals that are willing to be facilitators for each of your brainstorming sessions to help combat those ‘dead air’ moments that happen at times. They should be outgoing, energetic, and have self-confidence. You want an eclectic group, so be selective about who attends your brainstorms. I believe, in many instances, the presence of senior executives or a CEO can be very counterproductive and prevent participants from expressing themselves completely.
Keep your brainstorming group sizes between 3-10 individuals. When it gets more than 10 it can become unwieldy and you starts to loose some of the creative intimacy.
You should stock your brainstorming rooms with a variety of materials such as; white board, marker pens, and Post-it notes. It also doesn’t hurt to have a few snacks to give fuel to those creative fires.
Here are some of the unforeseen results and benefits from regular brainstorming:
Memory by Design
You can’t always have senior members of your organization be a part every project. But, a quick way you can get them involved is through brainstorms. Their organizational knowledge and expertise will help you work through all of your ideas. Their experience will give you insights on what has been tried in the past, present and plausible future.
Attitude and Wisdom
Being a part of many brainstorms can challenge your views and force you to match wits with other creative individuals. You will soon comprehend that others have great ideas and they can build upon yours. Brainstorms can be a humbling experience and will make you wiser because of it.
Brainstorms give some the most unlikely individuals in your organization a chance to shine. Having opportunities for others to be a part of the creative action can be quite self-empowering. Also, it lets other see your “quote-on-quote” creative team in action. Watching people excel in these intense brainstorming environments gets their attention and the status that might have regularly passed them by.
7 Tips to Help Tune Up Your Brainstorming
- Hone Your Focus: Have a clear statement or objective for the brainstorm. Make sure it is not too open ended or too broad. “What are the needs of our prospect customers and how can we come up with distinctive solutions for them?” would be an example of a well-defined topic.
- Rules of the Game: It’s good to have some preset rules before you start your brainstorms, so everyone can play better together. Here are some rules that I like to use: the more ideas the better, encourage crazy, be visual and physical, no naysayers, and one conversation at a time.
- Keep Track: Try numbering all of you ideas. It’s a good way to motivate your group and keep some kind of structure to the brainstorm. Try setting a goal like, “Let’s try to get 100 ideas in an hour.”
- Skip and Assemble: Every brainstorm can loose some steam. Select a facilitator that is prepared for these moments. Make sure the facilitator knows how to switch gears, play with variations on ideas, or cycle back to potential ideas that might branch into other thoughts.
- Use Your Surroundings: Let your brainstorms take physical shapes and fill the room. Capture ideas with simple tools like markers and large sticky notes and put them up around the room. The spatial memory of participation can be a helpful key for your participants.
- Warm Up: Have some type of creative game to play before you start working on the brainstorming topic. This will help clear everyone’s mind and will subtly let them know that they are there to creatively think.
- Make Stuff: Have all kinds of simple, physical tools for making things … stuff like duct tape, glue guns, cardboard, or play dough so participants can make crude prototypes. It’s a great way to rough out ideas beyond pencil and paper.
The next time you have a brainstorm, I hope you can implement some of these tactics that I have found to be successful.
If you liked this blog topic, here are some other brainstorming resources that I found to be useful: