Two heads are better than one, right? So, it just makes sense that when you need to create fresh ideas and solutions, you gather your team and for a brainstorming session.
In theory, group brainstorming should open up the flood gates on ideas. But sometimes it can be a barrier.
Prevent a pressure cooker.
Picture your last brainstorming session. Who was shouting out the ideas? Who was sitting pensively? Who contributed the best thoughts? And who was daydreaming?
It can be difficult to corral a group of people and expect them to “create”. You’re trying to stimulate creative thinking . Create an environment that promotes ideation, make it fun – after all it’s not a competition .
Are only the loudest voices are heard?
You likely have a few introverts on your team, and they will naturally defer to the vocal minority. The quiet ones, often the most creative, will ponder their ideas without sharing. They’ll look at the ins and outs of their ideas, they will ponder for a bit. Help them bring their ideas forward by paying attention to the group dynamics.
How often have you been in a meeting and felt like it was taking up valuable time that you could spend on other work? Between these thoughts and the distraction caused by checking cell phones every three minutes, whats the best way to hold the attention of your team?.
What’s social loafing?
If you’ve ever left only a few drops of coffee in the pot or walked away from a jammed printer, you’ve engaged in social loafing. This is the practice of avoiding a responsibility and leaving it to someone else in your group. The larger the group, the greater the social loafing, because there are more people you perceive as able to take on the effort you’re skipping. In a group brainstorming session, social loafers will let others seize the creative task of idea generation.
You can fix the brainstorm dynamics.
The concept of a nice, healthy group think is a valid one. It’s the execution, however, that makes it successful.
Here are 7 tips for group brainstorming, the right way:
You do need a facilitator.
Any group can get out of control and off-topic without someone in charge. The facilitator ensures that every person has a chance to speak, that everyone in the group and their ideas are respected, and the meeting is productive. A good facilitator is keenly aware of the group dynamic and able to gracefully keep everyone focused..
Clearly present the purpose of the brainstorming session by writing the challenge on a white board or screen, where everyone can see it. Simply state the problem you’re trying to solve, in one sentence.
NO cell BYOD (bring your own device) please.
Choose the right location.
A conference room is probably not the most inspiring place for idea generation. Creativity comes from being comfortable in an environment. Find a casual place where the group can relax. Provide refreshments and occasional breaks (for stretching, rest room, but no cell phones!).
Equip the thinkers.
Level the playing field by giving every participant the same idea generation gear: sticky notes and pens. One idea per sticky note will help with organization.
Unleash the creativity.
Openly discuss the challenge with your team and some of the issues that contribute to it. The purpose is to fully cover what you’re facing. Now its time for creative problem solving. Encourage transparency, open dialogue, idea sharing. White board the ideas – use sticky notes–whatever the group is comfortable with. The goal is to generate as many ideas as possible, not overthink them. Our culture likes to challenge each other–we call it intellectual sparring. My job is to be sure everyone has a voice that is heard.
Gather and share.
Document the ideas, encourage the team to think about them and set a time to regroup the same week to come up with a solution!
Brainstorming is fun; and drives the best BIG ideas and solutions!