We’ve all been in meetings where teams get together to brainstorm. The main purpose of these sessions is to get everyone on the same page in the search for creative ideas and solutions.
But what exactly is brainstorming? Brainstorming is loosely used to describe an informal exchange of ideas in a group. But the word began as a specific creativity technique proposed by American advertising executive Alex F. Osborn, the “O” in the advertising agency network BBDO.
Osborn introduced the technique of brainstorming at BBDO and many companies still follow it today. According to him, brainstorming means “using the brain to storm a creative problem”.
The question is: how do you design a successful brainstorming session. To begin with, define the process of brainstorming before your next session to avoid confusion.
If you want to give everyone a chance to participate, you should follow the process and steps in brainstorming. Let’s look at the stages of brainstorming for a successful meeting.
Process Of Brainstorming
Imagine you’re in a brainstorming session with 10 voices shouting ideas from different directions. Not only will good ideas be buried in the racket but the meeting will eventually conclude with disappointing results.
Using your best judgment and setting an agenda for the meeting is the ideal way to accomplish your goals. The ingredients of good brainstorming sessions are:
A small group of people
A clearly defined agenda
A facilitator to run the meeting
A predetermined time frame
A concentrated focus on team-building
Here are the different steps in the process of brainstorming:
Define The Problem
The first step in the phases of brainstorming is to state the problem. Many times, organizations fail to explain the purpose of a brainstorming session. Not only does this waste time but also group effort. Before you even send out an invite for a brainstorming session, you should define the problem or explain the reason for the meeting. This way, everyone will already come in with a few choice ideas and solutions to set the pace.
Set The Time, Place And Process
It’s important to determine the duration of brainstorming sessions as they can run for hours. Share the time, place and agenda for the meeting with everyone who’s invited. Members can meet at the allotted time, discuss and share ideas. This gives structure to an otherwise informal meeting. After all, you’re trying to solve organizational problems or generate ideas for growth and revenue. Treating brainstorming sessions as such will help others take them seriously.
Introduce The Facilitator
The facilitator will run the brainstorming session to maintain order. Everyone should get a chance to share the spotlight. If you have great ideas, so will your coworker. The facilitator can lead the meeting and ask questions, introduce any brainstorming techniques like brainwriting or mind mapping—where you have to write down your ideas on a piece of paper and share it with the team—and collect ideas for assessment.
Gather, Filter And Assess Ideas
Idea-sharing doesn’t have to be competitive because, ultimately, everyone has shared goals. For a successful brainstorming session, it’s important to collect ideas respectfully. You can implement brainstorming techniques or ask everyone to take turns to speak. Once you’ve gathered as many ideas as possible, you can then start to filter them to get the best of the lot. Brainstorming focuses on quantity versus quality because at this stage you’re just trying to find an appropriate direction. Refining and developing ideas come later.
Presenting the results need not be part of the session itself. You can share a memo with the team or schedule another meeting to discuss which ideas were picked. This is when you’ll decide the process of implementation and evaluation to assess the feasibility of the idea. Everyone can share their input about the process and decide on a business strategy. With a collective effort, you and your team can accomplish your goals in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Now that you’re aware of the steps in brainstorming, you can implement them in your team. One person can note the minutes of the meeting if you want to revisit some of the strategies discussed. This way you can keep track of everything that was said and done.
Learn more about the process of brainstorming, brainstorming techniques and creativity in groups with Harappa Education’s Unleashing Creativity course. Not only will it help you think creatively but also overcome personal obstacles that limit your ideas.
Go beyond your expectations and excel in your role as a professional with important frameworks like the Disney Creative Strategy. This is a brainstorming tool that assigns three different roles in a group—dreamers, realists and critics. Learn where your strengths lie to do your best in a brainstorming session.
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