Brainstorming Techniques for Creating Better Ideas

Brainstorming is important! A good brainstorming session can help you innovate your business and solve problems at work. Unfortunately, brainstorming is something that is easy to do inefficiently and ineffectively. These tips will help you generate smart ideas and business solutions to make your work life more productive.

Brainstorm in Small, Diverse Groups  

Brainstorming in small, diverse groups can ensure that your ideas will be as interesting, varied and creative as possible. Obviously, people from different cultures have different ways of thinking, so look for people with different backgrounds when formulating a brainstorming team. And to help ensure productivity, select a group of 4 to 10 people. Groups of this size are large enough to generate productive conversation, but not so large that participants will be afraid to speak up.

Ask People to Prepare In Advance

When you schedule a group meeting, ask participants to write down a few rough ideas to get the conversation started. If everyone comes with thoughts already prepared, this can help ensure that the time in your brainstorming session will be valuable to you.

Encourage People to Discuss All Ideas (Even Bad Ones)

Make your brainstorming meeting a "safe space" for all ideas, even the bad ones. You don't have to use bad ideas, but laying them out for consideration can lead to a formulation of better ideas.

Convincing your team members to give voice to their bad ideas is a challenge. To make it easier, don't be afraid to throw out some bad ideas of your own.

Limit the Length of Time in the Brainstorming Session

Long meetings can leave people feeling burned out and drained. Typically, the best ideas are produced at the beginning of a meeting instead of the end. To maximize the productivity in your meetings, tell participants in advance that your meeting will only last for 20 or 25 minutes.

Limiting the time for your brainstorming sessions also puts pressure on the group to produce fast results. However, if a short meeting turns out to be too short, schedule a follow-up meeting to give your group more time to finish later.

Accept the Silence

For many people, silence is a natural part of the idea-generating process. Encourage team members to think silently by beginning your brainstorming session with a breathing exercise, or a moment or two of quiet for writing down thoughts.

Accept That Your Brainstorming Session May Go Nowhere

Just because you've had a brainstorming session does not mean you're obligated to use the ideas the session produced. If no good ideas are generated during your meeting, try again later. Following through with bad ideas just because they were the best you could come up with can only lead to trouble.

If you're not sure about the ideas that your group was able to generate, put a pin in them and come back to them after some time has passed. What might seem like so-so ideas now may begin to look better after time has passed.   

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Chris Vendilli
About the Author
Chris is the founder and CEO of Vendilli Digital Group. In his free time, you’ll find him camping, fishing, or playing beer league ice hockey with a bunch of guys who refuse to admit they’re already over the hill.
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