The business world continues to see the birth of different tools for generating ideas almost on daily basis, however, the role of brainstorming is still huge especially when the task or problem requires team effort. Brainstorming gives credence to the wise old saying: “two heads are better than one”, as it is different from the individual act of thinking because it involves the coming together of a group of people.
According to Merriam Webster Dictionary: “Brainstorming is a group problem-solving technique that involves the spontaneous contribution of ideas from all members of a group; also; the mulling over of ideas by one or more individuals in an attempt to devise or find a solution to a problem.”
As stated above; brainstorming helps an individual or team see an idea from different perspective. Brainstorming helps to achieve the following among other things:
- It helps to produce many ideas or solutions in a short time
- It stimulates the creative thinking process
- It helps ensure that all group members’ ideas are considered.
Whether you are a small business owner, a startup, team lead or CEO of a large conglomerate, having the right team mix which you can have sessions with speaks volume about how far you go especially if you are in an innovative and highly competitive market.
While the composition of a team matters in terms of how creative and effective they are not only in ideas generation and solving problems, it is a different subject matter for another day.
Brainstorming has become more like slang in the corporate world especially in consulting services. A visit to these agencies will reveal the depth at which this term is used albeit in a wrong context. There are silent rules to brainstorming which help teams get the most out of it. Everyone needs to understand when to use it, how to use it as well as its dos and don’ts.
When to brainstorm
Ever being faced with a client’s brief and you are not sure of what to make of it all alone; I think it might be time to involve other members of the team in a brainstorming session. Situations like these as well as others like when:
- completing elements in a project charter
- identifying how best to tackle a research questions
- identifying potential causes to investigate
- identifying types of data to collect
- identifying solution ideas
Brainstorming puts a face to your team as it enables every member of the team participate in contributing to the results achieved in the team.
How to brainstorm
These following steps will guide you whenever you want commence a brainstorming session:
- Review the problem definition
- Clarify the problem/question and provide all information that can help the team understand what the problem/question is about.
- Allow the team digest the information in few minutes and tell them to write down their ideas. Ensure everyone writes something down. No idea is bad or outrageous.
- Gather ideas: make sure there is no discussion until all ideas are gathered
- Consolidate similar ideas and discuss the complete set of ideas.
After these steps you can use other tools to enable you narrow down or prioritize the ideas so that you can select the best or most applicable to the problem/question at the moment.
DOs and DON’Ts
To get the most out of your brainstorming sessions, there is need for you to observe these dos and don’ts:
- Go for quantity (not necessarily quality) at the early stage
- Allow everyone to complete his or her thoughts
- Start from the base by building on existing ideas
- Be brief when stating an idea
- Organize, categorize and evaluate only after the brainstorming session
- Criticize ideas (do not allow ‘idea assassins”)
- Make judgments as ideas are being offered
- Paraphrase an individual’s idea when scribing
- Allow only one person to dominate the session
You now have all it takes to conduct a successful brainstorming session for any kind of problem or question you or your team may be facing.