Breaking Through in Brainstormingby Patrick Sheffield on December 16, 2010
One of my favorite things about working for an integrated communications firm like Moore Consulting Group is brainstorming. I find that actively participating in brainstorming sessions stirs my creativity and energizes me throughout the day. While used regularly at firms like ours, brainstorming shouldn’t be confined to creative agencies alone. Whether it’s coming up with a great new idea or solving a problem, every type of business can benefit from brainstorming.
While there aren’t really “rules” for brainstorming, there are some simple tips to help get the most out of the session. At Moore Consulting Group, we aim to do the following when brainstorming: don’t judge, encourage participation, stay on topic, build on each other’s ideas, and organize and filter after the brainstorm.
A Meeting of Different Minds
Invite a diverse group of employees to brainstorm in order to get the group chemistry right. Cross-pollination from seemingly unrelated fields spurs innovation as long as there is a shared vision.
Set up the Space
Make sure the environment is conducive to creativity. Hold sessions in bright, spacious rooms that allow people to move around.
Another way to use the space is to make sure people can demonstrate their ideas. Bulletin boards, modeling clay, or even giant Post-it notes work great.
Check Your Title at the Door
While it is a good idea to have a facilitator, it shouldn’t be an authority figure. There’s nothing wrong with the boss participating in a brainstorm, but he or she can quickly kill creativity or encourage brownnosing if they assume control.
It’s all About the Quantity
In brainstorming, the goal should be about generating ideas. Lots of them. They don’t have to be good but they need to be plentiful. More ideas increase the chance of finding a great one. Furthermore, if you defer judgment until after you have a bunch of ideas, you won’t discourage people from voicing less conventional ones.
Make Generating Ideas a Part of the Culture
Brainstorming shouldn’t only happen when you schedule sessions. Infuse the process into your company’s culture for the best results.
There you have it. A sneak peak at the way some of the most creative people in the world brainstorm. For more tips, I recommend reading the entire article, as well as checking out this video for a behind the scenes look at Ideo.