steps to successful brainstorming
Clarification. Clarify the purpose for the
brainstorming by carefully defining the topic and expectations.
Don’t forget to review the ground rules.
want to send out a Topic/Problem e-mail before the session in which
you explain the purpose of the session, define terms, give examples,
Set the Clock. Set
a time limit for brainstorming, usually 15 to 25 minutes will suffice.
Don’t drag out the process; end while the energy level is
ideas Have a volunteer record all ideas on a
white board or flip chart so all can see.
Climate Control. Keep
the energy high by remaining uncritical, enthusiastic, and
encouraging. Keep things
allow a participant to drag out a response and risk sapping the
enthusiasm of the group.
Cull the ideas. When
the brainstorming time is up, work through the process of eliminating
duplicate ideas, combining similar ideas, and removing ideas that
aren’t relevant to the purpose.
Process the Ideas Left
process your brainstormed ideas first make certain that everyone is
clear about what the ideas are and what they imply.
Then evaluate each idea considering such things as workability,
resources required, timing, viability, etc. Your group may then rank
the ideas in priority order.
Establish Next Steps.
a course of implementation. This
means identifying such
things as action items, people to be involved, resources needed, responsibilities,
Variations: Below are a few different formats for your brainstorming sessions.
A. Best Idea Brainstorming
and clarifying the topic, each person writes down one idea on an index
card. Then partners share
their ideas with one another and together write a “best” idea.
These partner ideas are then listed, discussed, culled, and
prioritized by the full group.
B. Post It Note Brainstorming
Divide the full
group in groups of three to five (form at least three different small
groups). Each small group
brainstorms and writes their ideas on Post It notes.
After a set time, the full group reconvenes and the Post It notes
are posted and grouped into categories, themes, or commonalities.
The best idea is pulled out of each category by the full group.
C. Round Robin Brainstorming
the question or topic, move clockwise around the table and have each
person give one response (record the ideas).
Keep going around the circle until everyone has passed.
Then discuss the ideas given.
D. Display Brainstorming
Divide the full
group into small groups. Each
small group works at a flip chart and brainstorms.
After a set time, groups settle on their best idea and subsequently
“display” it at their station. The other groups then rotate from
station to station and weigh the pros and cons of each displayed idea.
After spending time at each station, the full group reconvenes and
settles on the best idea(s).
E-Mail Brainstorming Using e-mail the facilitator solicits ideas
from individual team members. Replies are sent back to the
facilitator who compiles them and sends them back out to the team members
for further responses.
F. Questioning Brainstorming
poses the topic to be brainstormed. Then
the group asks questions about the topic.
This is done in a rapid fire way without worrying about answers.
The questions are recorded. After
a set time for question generation, the group brainstorms by reacting to
G. Cluster Brainstorming
brainstorms by completing a cluster chart like the one below.
The blue circles are key headings or categories.