You’re standing in front of a room of your colleagues. You’re poised with a pen above a blank page, or a marker against a white board and are met with equally blank stares and silence. Does this sound familiar? It’s an unfortunate part of business that some brainstorming sessions just fall flat, but we’ve compiled a few tips to make the scene above as rare as possible.
Notify your coworkers and colleagues as soon as possible that a brainstorming session is being set up. A week is ideal, but even a few days notice will give the team some time to get in the creative headspace needed to solve problems and generate big ideas.
Give as many details and as much context as you can in your initial notification of the brainstorm session. What is the problem you’ll be aiming to solve? What would this success mean for the team and your business? Are there any time constraints? Anything that’s relevant should be included in the initial notice. This way you don’t waste time explaining at the beginning of the session, and it’s likely your team will come with ideas in hand so you can get started right away.
Pick a teammate who is outgoing, approachable, and open-minded to lead the group. They’ll be able to guide the group, encourage discussion, and won’t be quick to shut down ideas they might not personally have come up with. Ask the moderator to put up ideas on a board so the team has a visual of what they’ve come up with.
Let the team and the moderator know that the session is aiming to generate big, diverse, expansive ideas. At this point you’re not worried about specific. The wider range and higher quantity of ideas, the better. You’ll worry about the details at a later date.
In the initial notice of the brainstorming session and again at the start, remind the team that everyone’s ideas are valued, encouraging all members to contribute. Quantity of ideas is what matters, so even if they aren’t sure how their idea would work in the long run, reassure them that their ideas are valued.
Toward the end of the brainstorming, begin to narrow the scope. Which ideas does everyone like best? Take a vote, open the floor for debating the pros and cons, whatever works best for your team. Aim for 3 to 5 possibilities.
Break everyone up into groups and assign each group an idea to flesh out some more before the next session. Let them know how much time they have before the follow-up session and what they’re expected to bring with them, even if it’s why this idea won’t work in the long run.
Implementing these simple tips for your next brainstorming session is sure to bring out the best in all your colleagues and results for your business!