A bad brainstorm session is like a bad date; it leaves you feeling a little unsettled. While I haven’t been on a bad date in sometime, I’ve been to my share of bad brainstorming sessions—chances are you have too.
But don’t give up hope kids! By following these ten suggestions you can run brainstorms that nurture new ideas and cultivate creative thinking.
- Expand Your Guest List: Marketing and PR types don’t have a monopoly on creative thinking. Invite the receptionist, the guy from the accounting and the intern—in other words, anyone who will add value and contribute to the conversation. Six to ten people is ideal.
- You’re Invited: A good evite should not only provide background information on the challenge, but also immediately stimulate creative thinking, so participants arrive to the brainstorm with a preliminary list of ideas.
- Location is Everything: Find a quiet, relaxing spot where you can arrange the seats in a circular fashion, so everyone can see one another.
- Plan Your Menu: Snacks make people happy and help maintain energy levels.
- Establish Ground Rules: A brainstorm is a judgment free zone—that means all participants need to need to check their attitude at the door. Creativity and radical ideas flow freely here.
- Timing is Everything: Limit the length of the brainstorm to forty-five minutes.
- The Write Stuff: Assign a scribe to write down every idea on a visible whiteboard.
- What’s the Problem ?: Describe your central question/challenge to the team at the beginning of the session.
- Go with the Flow: If the creative juices begin to run dry—navigate the team toward a new direction.
- Wrap it Up: Once the session draws to a close build consensus around which ideas are worth pursuing.
One final word of advice, if you’re the boss you may want to assign someone from your team to facilitate the brainstorm. Your employees may be more comfortable sharing ideas with a colleague. Did I miss anything? Send me your ideas and suggestions. firstname.lastname@example.org