Are you a paper-and-pen kind of brainstormer, or one of the out-loud-musing types? Either way, brainstorming is a key process for teams to collaborate on projects and ideas!
But so many brainstorms feel like a waste of time. You spend a few hours talking, but what comes out of it? Whether it’s because things get off-topic or you simply feel like you can’t come up with anything good, not all brainstorms provide the desired outcome.
By implementing these effective techniques, you can make the most out of your brainstorming in the shortest time possible.
1. Identify Goals
A brainstorm session without goals is like a ship without a direction. A road trip without a map. A restaurant without a menu… need we go on? It’s so important to identify the goals of a brainstorm session because it sets the direction for where you’re going.
Goals might sound something like, “the goal of this meeting is to…”
- Bring five ideas for the next project to senior leadership
- Create a timeline of tasks for our marketing initiative
- Short-list three product names for market testing
The goals have to be specific enough to guide your meeting, but not too specific to make it impossible!
2. Assign a Moderator or Leader
This doesn’t have to be a super formal role, but it’s helpful to have someone “in charge” of the meeting. It might be natural for the manager or team leader to play this role, but anyone can do it.
The moderator’s role is to:
- State the meeting goal (point 1) so everyone is on the same page
- Bring the participants back on track when moving away from the stated goal
- Make sure all voices are heard and ask people to speak up or stay quiet as needed
Before the meeting begins, assign someone to take on this task.
3. Write. It. Down.
This is so obvious but so important. If you don’t write down notes, outcomes, agreements, and ideas from your brainstorm session, it’s not worth doing.
You can take written or typed notes, but make sure to also take photos of any large mind-map or whiteboard brainstorm. If you use sticky notes or other tools, make sure to include those as well. Assign one person to collate the information into a document that is easy to refer back to in the future.
4. Create Space
Brainstorming is a creative process. You need to let your mind wander and explore new ideas! It’s hard to do that if you aren’t in the right physical space. So, create a space for your brainstorm meeting that is conducive to deep thinking and collaboration. Here are some ideas:
- Make sure there is enough room. Some people may like to walk or pace to help get the ideas flowing.
- Get comfortable—nice chairs or couches, windows, snacks… whatever you need!
- Book a meeting room or flex space if you need to meet off-site or have a remote team that needs to come together.
5. Be R-Rated
We only mean this in the sense that you have to stop censoring yourself! A brainstorm session is a place to get out all of your wild and wacky ideas, even if they seem unrealistic. Don’t hold back and censor your ideas because you think they can’t work or are worried about what others might think.
You’ve got ideas that need to be heard! Don’t hold back, speak up, and encourage others to do the same.
Sometimes the best outcomes arise from the weirdest ideas.
6. Bring in Diverse Voices
Sometimes a group brainstorm session can become a groupthink session. Instead of bringing new ideas to the table, people just start echoing and agreeing with one another. That’s why it’s so important to bring in diverse voices, including:
- Diversity of position: Where appropriate, try to include everyone from leadership to interns who are involved in the project.
- Diversity of age, race, gender, and background: This ensures you are operating in an inclusive and welcoming environment, but also helps point out blind spots and internal biases.
Brainstorms don’t have to be a waste of time. These tips and tricks will help guide your session and make the most from it!
If you’re looking for an inspiring meeting space for your next brainstorm session, book a tour of Co-Balt today.