Prepare thoroughly for your brainstorming session so that you get the most out of it.
If you've ever had to solve a problem at work, you've probably tried brainstorming. It can be an effective way of coming up with ideas and creative solutions. But brainstorming needs to be done correctly for it to be successful.
Be sure to start your problem solving in a structured, analytical way, so you know you've considered the essentials. Only then move on to brainstorming.
Brainstorming encourages people to think in a free and open way with no restrictions. As a result, they often generate more possibilities than they would using just a structured approach.
Brainstorming can be done alone or in a group. Sometimes, individual brainstorming produces more ideas than the group version. This may be because people feel less inhibited when they're on their own, they're not worried about other people's opinions, and they've got time to think. But if group brainstorming is done well, with effective chairing of people from a range of backgrounds, you'll likely get more diverse ideas. Just don't make your group too big. Five to seven people is best.
To start your brainstorming session, find a comfortable, quiet place where you won't be disturbed. Ask everyone to bring a pen and a notepad. Appoint one person to record all the ideas you generate where everyone can see them, such as on a whiteboard. Explain clearly that the group's goal is to come up with as many ideas as possible without thinking about them too much. You'll evaluate them later.
Define the problem you want to solve, then give everyone some time to write down their ideas. Now ask each person to share their ideas, and use those suggestions to generate other ideas. This should be a fun and creative time, so be sure to discourage people from criticizing or judging one another.
Once the brainstorming session is finished, you'll have lots of ideas to work with. Now is the time to evaluate them, so that you can find the best solution to the problem. We have lots of analysis and decision-making tools to help you do this.
For more information about brainstorming and our supporting tools, see the article that accompanies this video.