As delegates who attend Maguire Training's excellent Problem Solving & Decision Making business skills training course will learn, brainstorming is an extremely useful technique which leaders and managers can employ to help find creative solutions to problems and enhance productivity. Any individual or group can benefit from brainstorming session, but the way in which a session is conducted can make a big difference to its effectiveness and the value of the resultant output.
Here are 7 tips to ensure that you achieve the maximum benefit from brainstorming sessions.
1. Designate a brainstorming facilitator
The role of a facilitator is not to hinder creative input and output but to ensure that participants keep in mind the overall purpose and goal of the session, steer the conversation back to the task at hand if it begins to drift or become negative and to act as a sounding board, devil's advocate and timekeeper.
2. Determine the purpose and desired outcome of the session
Every participant in a brainstorming session should know exactly what it is they are trying to achieve or resolve as a result of the session. The outcome should be the achievement of a specific objective or solution to a specific problem, rather than a vague concept such as 'making more profit' or improving our product'.
3. Choose a neutral, distraction-free environment
Hold your brainstorming session somewhere away from the pressures and interruptions of your usual workspace in a place that is conducive to creativity. Ideally this should be somewhere that is comfortable yet unfamiliar to participants, freeing them from mental associations with their familiar day-to-day work and surroundings and allowing them to focus upon creativity.
4. Ensure the duration of a brainstorming session is sensible and appropriate
The ideal length of a brainstorming session will vary in accordance with the complexity of the goal that has been set, but too short a session will result in the generation of too few or half-formed ideas, whilst too long a session may lead to creative burnout, repetition or a simple loss of motivation.
5. Express ideas pictorially if it helps
The brain functions best when processing visual images rather than words, so brainstorming participants may find it more useful and productive to record their ideas diagrammatically or pictorially rather than try to find the right words to express them.
6. Embrace every idea no matter how fanciful
The idea of a brainstorming session is to encourage creativity at every level, and any idea - even one which may at first seem outlandish or irrelevant - may contain an aspect which contributes toward the solving the overall problem or achieving a particular goal. Every idea should be shared and recorded; following the brainstorming session each idea can be evaluated and either discarded or developed according to its merit.
7. Invite an impartial or external participant
It's often said that people can be 'too close' to a problem to be able to find an appropriate solution. Inviting a participant who is entirely uninvolved or new to the problem or goal being brainstormed adds a 'fresh pair of eyes' and an entirely different perspective. This participant may make suggestions or propose ideas that simply wouldn't occur to those most closely associated with the issue under discussion.
Maguire Training specialises in providing business skills training for sales managers, business managers and leaders and provides a wide range of classroom-based and E-learning courses. Effective brainstorming is just one of the invaluable skills that can be acquired via the on-line training Problem Solving Models and Decision Making Strategies, which delegates can access via Maguire Training's intuitive and convenient E-learning platform, enabling them to study via any internet connected device whenever and wherever they choose.