A group brainstorming process is a powerful and calculated way to create new ideas, solve problems, motivate, and develop teams.
For “out-of-the-box” thinking, structure and follow these guidelines.
- First, define and agree upon the objective (keep it simple) .
- Agree on time limitations and then stick to it.
- Begin with a series of thought provoking questions and/or suggestions .
- Categorize, condense, combine, and refine the answers and thoughts.
- Analyze the possible effects and results.
- Prioritize a list of options and rank them appropriately.
- Agree upon action to be taken and time-frame.
- Control and monitor follow-up.
The facilitator must encourage everyone to participate, dismiss nothing, and prevent others from dismissive actions as well.
During the random collection of ideas the facilitator must record every suggestion on a flip-chart or sticky notes to hang. At the end of the time limit or when ideas have been exhausted, use different colored pens to categorize, group, and then connect the random ideas. Refine the ideas by making new headings or lists. You can diplomatically combine or include the weaker ideas within other themes to avoid dismissing or rejecting contributions.
Remember brainstorming is about team building and motivation, too. You don’t want it to have the reverse effect on some people.
With the group, evaluate and analyze the effects and validity of each idea on the list. Then develop and prioritize the ideas into a more finished list. Agree on what the next actions will be, a timeframe, and who’s responsible.
After the session, be sure to monitor and give feedback. It’s crucial to develop a clear and positive outcome, so that people feel their effort and contribution was worthwhile. When people see that their efforts have resulted in action and change, they will be motivated to help again.