Most people have experienced this…you have a blank page waiting to be filled with lots of lateral thinking ideas …but you can’t think of a single idea! Frustrating, yes! How about a brainstorming session with your team/colleagues. Tried that but didnt work? Think again….. if used effectively brainstorming can be a highly effective and useful way of generating ideas, just as long as it’s facilitated well!
A little intro to Brainstorming…
This technique was developed by Madison Avenue advertising executive, Alex Osborn, in the 1950s and combines a relaxed, informal approach to problem-solving with lateral thinking and helps you generate creative solutions to a problem. It asks that people come up with ideas and thoughts that can at first seem to be a bit crazy. The idea here is that some of these ideas can be crafted into original, creative solutions to the problem you’re trying to solve, while others can spark still more ideas. This approach aims to get people unstuck, by “jolting” them out of their normal ways of thinking.
How does a Group Brainstorming session work?
To run a group brainstorming session effectively, do the following:
- Find a comfortable meeting environment, and set it up ready for the session.
- Appoint one person to record the ideas that come from the session. Depending on the approach you want to use, you may want to record ideas on flip charts, whiteboards, or computers with data projectors.
- Define the objective of the brainstorming session clearly, and lay out any criteria to be met. Make it clear that that the objective of the meeting is to generate as many ideas as possible.
- Give people plenty of time on their own at the start of the session to generate as many ideas as possible.
- Ask people to give their ideas, making sure that you give everyone a fair opportunity to contribute, including the quietest members of the group
- Encourage people to develop other people’s ideas, or to use other ideas to create new ones.
- Encourage an enthusiastic, creative, uncritical attitude among members of the group, Ensure that no one criticizes or evaluates ideas during the session as this stifles creativity and cripples the free running nature of a good brainstorming session.
- Let people have fun brainstorming. Encourage them to come up with as many ideas as possible, from solidly practical ones to wildly impractical ones.
- Ensure that no train of thought is followed for too long. Make sure that you generate a sufficient number of different ideas, as well as exploring individual ideas in detail.
- In a long session, take plenty of breaks so that people can continue to concentrate.
- Ideas should only be evaluated at the end of the brainstorming session – this is the time to explore solutions further using conventional approaches.
Good luck with your idea generation session!