How to Run a Successful Brainstorming Session [Infographic]
Posted on 08/03/21 By Lorman Team
Brainstorming sessions can be extremely valuable. They are a great way to engage employees, get ideas you might not have otherwise considered, and help keep your team connected — especially when everyone is working remotely.
However, many people think brainstorming sessions are easy. There is a temptation to sit around the physical or virtual table and simply ask for everyone's thoughts, but running a successful brainstorming session takes a bit more work than that.
Tips for Successful Brainstorm Sessions
Here are some brainstorming tips for making your next brainstorming session successful.
- Offer Just Enough Structure
Too much structure will hinder creativity and cause your brainstorming activities to be ineffective. Too little, and half of your team will sit there without contributing.
You need to have a brainstorming process that ensures that everyone is involved. This means you sometimes need to call out a specific individual, without making them feel conspicuous (and also involve the right people in the first place).
Make sure you have a topic and solid directions. Brainstorming, by definition, tends to go off topic, so you need to be ready to bring things back on the rails. Make notes on things that go off topic and use them as topics for future sessions.
- Follow Directions
With correct brainstorming techniques you can keep your session centered. Unfortunately, group brainstorming activities too often turn into discussions or worse vent sessions. Make sure that people don't focus on the negative, but stick to the basic brainstorming rules.
Brainstorming methods are a skill everyone on your team needs to develop. You need to understand what brainstorming is and why it is important.
Practice your team's brainstorming techniques before using them on anything important. Some teams might benefit from learning to understand the meaning of brainstorming by doing a session shooting the breeze on things not related to work.
Truly creative brainstorming can cover a wide variety of topics. For others, it might be better just to do several sessions and assume the early ones will be less effective.
- Use the Right Types of Brainstorming
There are several types of brainstorming. Brainstorming can be done in a group session, or it can be done by writing everything down and then having people present their ideas. Reverse brainstorming is when you, for example, pretend to be a customer or stakeholder in order to get another perspective on the problem.
Make sure you use the right brainstorming process for how your team works, taking into account the age range of your team and the kind of brainstorming ideas you seek.
You should use the brainstorming tools that are most suited, whether this includes virtual meetings, specific focus groups, or role playing. All of these tools add structure to the session and ensure everyone contributes.
- Know How to Follow Up After a Brainstorming Session
It's a good idea to record brainstorming sessions, ideally including any text chat, and then go over it to make sure nothing is lost. Also, encourage people to jot down notes — great ideas often come out in the middle of sessions and are then forgotten.
Follow up with your team the next day after the brainstorming session. One good technique is to ask them which of the ideas they still remember; the ones that stick in their heads are likely to be either the best or the worst (sometimes people will come up with something so bad it's memorable).
Brainstorming Session Best Practices
Brainstorming is one of the most useful things you can do to get new, creative ideas for your team. However, it can be a waste of time and even add to negativity if done incorrectly.
Follow these basic rules of brainstorming sessions to ensure your next meeting is successful:
Learn how to run a better brainstorming session, or other online meeting, with our course How to Run a Successful Virtual Meeting.
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