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August 31, 2016

Brainstorming: Your Top Tips

Keith Jackson

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Sometimes, it seems like group activities or sessions can suck all the life out of a team. What is it about team meetings that can turn a group of individually brilliant and creative people into a silent, uninspired ideas-vacuum?

Perhaps people find team meetings too formal and structured. Maybe group dynamics, office politics, or different personality types can stifle open discussion and limit people's problem-solving processes.

If you want people to be creative, imaginative, and engaged in problem solving or generating ideas, you have to create an environment that supports them. And that's where Brainstorming sessions can really help. Managers should encourage participation, invite and build upon quirky ideas, and bring people's individual strengths and perspectives into play.

So, we decided to throw the subject out to our friends and followers across our social media channels. We asked, "What are your top tips for running an effective brainstorming session?"

Once again, we were thrilled by the quality and quantity of the responses. Here's a selection of your replies:

Facebook friend Mahmoud Ibrahim ElKasrawy, from Egypt, was a big fan of letting people's imagination run free. He said, "The greatest idea comes after the silliest ones. Just be silly. Once you get the silliest idea, add more silliness to it. It will make all laugh. and that will do a great job in getting creative ideas."

Nirav Bhatt, a gas industry process manager from Qatar, stressed the importance of listening carefully to all ideas and participants. He said, "Give enough time to everyone to come forward with their idea. Effective listening and speaking is key for successful brainstorming session."

Nikola Konvalinová, from Brno, Czech Republic, recommended bringing in people from outside your team or usual circle, and also suggested letting someone else manage the meeting. She said, "Engage a facilitator, someone who will focus on the process for you, so you can deal with the content. And if possible, work in a group different from the one you work with every day, so you can think and behave out of the box and not worry about what the others will say."

The importance of not being judgmental was echoed by Abu Malik. He said, "Gather the right people and make sure everyone is contributing. Don't judge or evaluate the ideas at the generation stage, ask clarifying questions instead."

On LinkedIn, management consultant Grant Elder said, "Have a facilitator and a process. Take snapshots of what has been created and agreed as you move along. Don't be afraid to throw away what has been done and start over if needed."

Here is a snapshot of the many responses that we received from our Twitter followers:

    • Marcelo Escalante (@mescalante09): Listen to every single thought or idea to enrich the strategy.
    • Georgina Wild (@G_in_London): After outlining issue, give ppl post-its & time to think. Trad brain storming is a challenge for introverts.
    • (@EWASSEducation): Every view counts and look for common thread.
    • (@BrainBlenderTec): We do it on a regular basis start with a funny analogy it gets people to look from different angle and makes it fun.

You can still have your say on what makes a good brainstorming session - just add your comments, below.

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2 comments on “Brainstorming: Your Top Tips”

  1. Starts is very important.
    From my self,be the first silly one,write whatever i thought,mostly silly things.
    This could encourage everybody join it.

    1. I often say to my students in a Creativity in Enterprise class that it is from the silliest ideas comes the best ideas! So, well done to you and it is great that you get the ball rolling with sharing the silliest thoughts and ideas!

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