Having regular brainstorming sessions with your colleagues, employees and management team can be a great way to identify strengths and weaknesses, problems and opportunities. Unfortunately, brainstorming sessions can lack structure and end up being inefficient and unproductive.
Here are some simple truths: Morning meetings work best; 3 – 10 participants should take part; and coffee always spurs creativity. Some truths, like those outlined below, are a bit more refined.
1. Sharpen the focus.
Start with a well-honed statement of the problem at hand. Edgy is better than fuzzy. The best topic statements focus outward on a specific customer need or service enhancement rather than inward on some organisational goal.
2. Write playful rules.
“Defer judgment” , “One conversation at a time”, etc
3. Number your ideas.
This rule seems counterintuitive — the opposite of creativity, but numbered lists create goals to motivate participants. You can say, ‘Let’s try to get to 100 ideas.’ Also, lists provide a reference point if you want to jump back and forth between ideas.
4. Build and jump.
Most brainstorming sessions follow a power curve: They start out slowly, build to a crescendo, and then start to plateau. The best facilitators nurture the conversation in its early stages, step out of the way as the ideas start to flow, and then jump in again when energy starts to peter out.