Brainstorming is a creative group process for generating many ideas on a given subject in a short period of time. The goal of a brainstorming session is to generate as many ideas as possible. It is almost always more productive than one person creating ideas alone.
- Select a topic. Display the topic in front of the Team so they keep it in mind through the activity.
- Assign a recorder.
- Set a time limit. Often somewhere between five and ten minutes is best. Keep it rather short.
- Give Participants about two minutes to write down their initial ideas before starting the open discussion.
- Take turns giving input. When ideas begin to dry up, you can accept ideas from anyone at any time.
- Record each idea on a flipchart or whiteboard. It is important that the entire Team is able to see all the ideas.
- Continue until ideas “dry up” or time runs out.
- Let the topic incubate for an appropriate time.
- Review the list and add new ideas.
Hints and Cautions
- Ask each group member for input. This might start with an “open forum” where individuals just chime in; then you might go around the room one by one and give each individual multiple chances to contribute.
- Group members without an idea can say “pass.”
- Only one idea should be given by each participant on a turn.
- DO NOT evaluate, criticize, praise or lobby an idea.
- Keep the pace fast.
- Any idea is OK (You’re more interested in the quantity of ideas than the quality at this point).
- Write down just key thoughts and phrases — be certain they are in the actual words of the submitter. Never rephrase a participant’s statement.
Brainstorming can be used any time when lots of ideas are needed on a given subject.
A brainstorming session almost always brings out ideas even when the group doesn’t seem to have any ideas on a particular subject.
Guidelines for Successful Brainstorming
- Make NO evaluations (negative or positive)
- Quantity is more important than quality of ideas
- Free-wheel (be wild – think of radical ideas)
- Hitchhike (piggyback on another idea)
- Use your five senses
- Think of the opposite
- Everyone contributes (in sequence or randomly)
- If it’s your turn and you don’t have an idea, just say “Pass”
- Record all ideas onto a flip chart