Brainstorming is an unhibited tool for generating new and creative ideas, especially when there is not an obvious solution or there are competing approaches to solving a problem. The following tips are not exhaustive, but provide a solid basis for developing solutions to problems.
1. Generate a large number of ideas: Don’t inhibit anyone, just let the ideas flow. The important thing is quantity and to at least provide all participants to participate. Do list each idea separately.
2. Free-wheeling is encouraged: Even though an idea may seem unrealistic, don’t rule these out. They have value and may provoke thoughts from others.
3. Don’t criticize: There will be ample time after the session to sift through the ideas for the best ones. Duirng the session, don’t cirticize ideas. This inhibits the creative environment you are trying to create.
4. Encourage everyone to participate: Everyone has a unique perspective and has ideas. Allow and encourage everyone to participate. Moderate the session so everyone speaks in turns. Don’t allow others to interrupt when others are speaking.
5. Record all ideas: Appoint a recoreder to write down all ideas or suggestions.Don’t edit the ideas, write them down as the come out. Keep a permenant record that can be read.
6. Clarification of ideas: At times the ideas are not clear to others, so it is OK for the group to ask for clarification, AFTER an idea is fully presented. This should not cross the line of criticism, but clarification. This often helps the person with the original idea to speak again.
7. Let the ideas incubate: The environment you are creating is freeing up the subconscious mind. Let it do its creative work by giving it time. Dont’ discontinue a brainstorming session too soon. Allow ample time for the meeting so people are comfortable and don’t feel rushed.
8. Selective an appropriate meeting place: A place that is comfortable, casual and the right sixe will greatly enhance the session. Too large a room, excess noise inhibit the session. Provide a comfortable, yet prefessional space to meet in.
9. Group size: A good rule of thumb is that a group size of 4-10 is ideal.
Brainstorming does not guarantee the problems will be solved or create an effective correction plan. It does create a common set of information and opinons that the group now shares. It can be used with other tools, such as multi-voting, to arrive at a consensus to an appropriate course of action. It is a participative method to help work teams acheive their goals and objectives.