Brainstorming Part 2: The Brain & Drain, Team & Triumph

Creation doesn’t necessary require blue skies and fields of dreams.Nor does creating ideas. It can be the stalest of conference rooms or a session room at a hotel.

Creating ideas often requires brainstorming, a gathering of folks who spill their brains and hearts to deliver a barreful of ideas. From that barrel often comes The Big Idea. The Best Idea.

The most ineffective approach to brainstorming? See our last post, but it often involves prima donnas and temperaments. As one BusinessWeek article says,”… it is total nonsense to conclude that if you want creativity, you ought to keep your people in solitary confinement where they can’t ‘waste time’ listening to and building on the ideas of others.”

This time, we’re talking effective brainstorming and how to deliver the best ideas for yourself and your clients.

My favorite—and my mantra on brainstorming:

Follow the rules, or don’t call it a brainstorm. I can’t say it any better than this: … “Alex Osborn’s original four (rules) still work: 1) Don’t allow criticism; 2) Encourage wild ideas; 3) Go for quantity; 4) Combine and/or improve on others’ ideas, plus I’d add “One conversation at a time” and ‘Stay focused on the topics’ as both help save groups from dissolving into disorder.

Claire Allison at the GetSmarter site, shares 10 top brainstorming tips. All 10 aren’t here, but the ones that are particularly important:

Have a moderator. It’s important for someone to be assigned to guide the brainstorming session and to keep track of ideas.

Write everything down. Every idea is valuable. Visual brainstorming is an effective tool that can assist with illustrating perceptions and points of view of different ideas, making room for new ideas.

Bring in an outsider. Bringing in someone who is completely unrelated to the project will give an injection of fresh ideas, which could prove very valuable.

Evaluate the solutions. Stepping back and looking at ideas in their entirety can help identify the best and most workable solution. The most important aspect of brainstorming, in my opinion, is the “understanding that the purpose is to build on and extend the ideas of others” and to bring together the various skills and mindsets of your staff to gather ideas and build on them.  By keeping the session non-competitive, encouraging all ideas, no matter how outlandish, and resisting the urge to impose your own agenda, the group brainstorm can be an effective way to elicit creativity and discover innovation.”

Could it be said better than that?

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