Brainstorming that Works Requires Two Sessions
The thing I hate about brainstorming is the lack of follow through.
Brainstorming, without follow through, is an irritating braindrizzle.
Nothing kills a “what might we do” conversation more than adding “how might we do it.”
Brainstorming begins with a commitment to inaction.
Divide and conquer:
Successful brainstorming requires two meetings.
The first meeting is a “What might we do” meeting. The second is a “How might we do it” meeting.
Separate “What” from “How” to maximize creativity and follow through.
- Limit the focus of your first session to one important question.
- Create focus by explaining what you aren’t doing.
- Focus on “what” not “how.” Let your team know that the “How” conversation is next week.
Brainstorm in small groups:
#1. Form small groups, but stay in the same room so people can hear each other. Set a limit of five for each group.
Small groups create environments of participation and ownership.
#2. Give each group seven minutes to brainstorm around the question.
#3. When seven minutes are up, have each small group report their results to.
#4. Send everyone back to their small group for another short brainstorming session. Give them six minutes to extend their list of ideas. Report and record results.
A feeling of competition between groups keeps creative juices flowing.
#5. Include everyone in a ten minute brainstorming session.
- Don’t defend any ideas.
- Protect against the “How.”
- Celebrate wacky ideas.
Several short bursts of creativity are better than one long.
Send everyone away with a simple assignement, “Choose five ideas and write three ways they might work.”
- Record the ideas that each person chose to expand.
- Watch for over-lap.
- Choose the top three ideas. Ask, “What’s the next step?”
- Look for someone to champion each idea.
- Define what follow through looks like.
What strategies make brainstorming successful?
**This post is inspired by a coaching call I had yesterday. We discussed, “UNSTRUCTURED BRAINSTORMING IS AN OFFENSE TO CREATIVITY.”