In terms of brainstorming, people often tend to forget that in order for it to be achieved the answer is quantity, not quality. Brainstorming represents the essential first step in early stages of a new project, so it is crucial that everyone understands how important it is to be open towards all ideas and variables. Naturally, issues occur when team members feel the need to filter themselves from potentially good ideas that they may seem far-fetched or just simply because they are afraid of rejection and embarrassment.
Another common misconception about brainstorming is that employees and managers alike believe it can be done only in a certain way: the evergreen group discussion with everyone involved. It is not necessarily the worst idea, but it can have major drawbacks from a creative point of view. There is a general tendency that during these meetings, the first two ideas that get bounced around tend to be the focus of the entire meeting. In a recent study on traditional brainstorming methods, it has been discovered the fact that only a handful of people do approximately 60-75% of the talking. Logically, it can prevent other ideas from being discussed.
How to Make Brainstorming Better
There are many ideas through which brainstorming sessions can become more practical, based on individual creativity, idea generation and a better meeting experience. The following strategies will help your organisation’s brainstorming.
1. Select only necessary employees: Choose the people you need for a brainstorming session. If the meeting is filled with people who have no relation to the nature of the discussion, their contribution and participation will be zero. Moreover, more people mean a higher level of difficulty in passing along ideas given the fact that people may exhibit anxiety in explaining their ideas. A manager’s best bet here is the creative individuals who can actually carry the discussion in a productive manner.
2. Brief sessions: It is as clear as day that shorter meetings are more efficient. The current tradition is for a meeting to last for an hour. However, shortening the meeting time will entice people to bring ideas to the table much faster with a healthy disregard to keeping some ideas for themselves. Normally, a meeting shouldn’t be any longer than 30 minutes. Managers can always do follow-up meetings to discuss leftover ideas or if the schedule is too hectic then the recommendation is individual brainstorming time.
3. “Bad” ideas are welcomed: Managers should encourage their employees to speak their mind. Good ideas “happen” after a lot of other ideas have been bounced off at the meeting table. People should understand the fact that there is a very fine line between good and bad ideas. From a managers point of view all ideas are welcomed given the obvious fact that it will lead to the best solution in the end.
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4. Brain Writing: The general principle of this technique is to separate idea generation from actually talking. The manager shares the topic with the team, and the team members individually write down their ideas. This helps eliminate anchoring and encourages everyone on the team to share their own ideas. It also gives everyone more time to think over their ideas, which is especially helpful for your introverted participants. This brainstorming technique works best for teams who seem to be greatly influenced by the first ideas presented during a meeting. When you get your team to brainstorm ideas individually, away from distraction and public opinion, concepts are generated that may not naturally surface when in a larger setting. Individual brainstorming techniques such as this will often give you more unique ideas than when the group is left to think up topic ideas.
5. Online Brainstorming: These days, virtual teams are becoming more and more common across all industries. The evolution of email and collaboration tools makes working remotely the norm in some organisations. Having a central location online where team members can collaborate is crucial for these virtual teams — talking here about cloud-based document storage or an online collaboration tool. One of those brainstorming exercises for groups involves using an online mind-mapping tool to answer very specific questions or simply to generate ideas that might be tangential to the main problem. What other ideas surround this concept? Map these examples out, visually.
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