Brilliant Brainstorming: 5 Classic Rules To Keep Your Brainstorming On Track
22nd January 2010
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Welcome to the third in this brief series overviewing Brilliant Brainstorming.
Not everything that is good is new, the tried and tested proven over time so often pays dividends. That is true of the classic rules that you can use to navigate the course of a brainstorming session.

To keep a brainstorming meeting going where it needs to go you need one person and 5 basic rules. The person is you, the  facilitator, who will steer the meeting.

It’s best if the facilitator is not the boss - bosses tend to have an inhibiting effect. So, if you are the boss, be a creative leader and give someone else an opportunity to develop their skills.

Stay focused on the topic.
With all those ideas flowing freely it’s easy to end up solving the wrong problem. This can be especially true if you're having fun and that is also a pre-requisite for the best brainstorming sessions. Not only are minds more flexible but fun keeps the energy levels high.

Encourage wild ideas.
They may not be the solution themselves but your craziness may be the trigger for someone else in the team to have that “million dollar idea”

Defer judgement avoid criticism
You must keep this for later; don’t mix the creative and analytical processes. A different kind of thinking is required and the team’s creativity will be stifled as you dive off down analytical rabbit holes. You will also miss the opportunity to generate new ideas. Negative criticism will switch off the team’s creative juices because it makes people prefer to keep quite rather than risk a put down by speaking out what might seem to them to be a silly idea.

Build on the ideas of others
The process of creative thinking pivots not on an individual’s ideas alone, but the ideas that are stimulated by external triggers. One way to stimulate your creativity is to respond to or extend the wacky ideas of others, perhaps seeing how it can become a practical version. There are techniques that you can use that are based on this principle.

Allow only one conversation at a time
The process of brainstorming needs one person’s ideas to stimulate the other team members. If you allow multiple conversations you will short change the other team members by limiting the number of people responding to the stimulation of an idea.  The scribe, who is recording the ideas, will likely miss some too. On both counts, multiple conversations will limit the output and effectiveness of the session.

As the facilitator you will need to steer the session using these navigation aids.
The list could be longer but represents  the classic core. What can you add to it that might help to keep brainstorming on track?

You can learn more about facilitating brainstorming, including the Brainstormer’s Check List with the “The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to Brainstorming”. This is a complimentary Creative Leader Bulletin mini-course in which you will learn how you can facilitate a brainstorming session so that it does not disappoint.

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