I have found over the course of my career that there aren’t a whole lot of people who are fans of brainstorming.
I, on the other hand, am a big fan of a well thought out brainstorming session. You can get a lot done when you lock yourself in a room and just crank ideas out.
There are a few big keys to making a brainstorming session successful. Without the use of some of these techniques, you might end up leaving your brainstorming session with no new ideas.
Here is how to make sure you’re brainstorming the right way.
Set the Ground Rules:
Before you start the session, you need to make sure you set the rules of engagement right out of the gate. These rules can vary slightly depending on the purpose of the meeting, but they should all generally have the same high-level rules. For instance, all brainstorming sessions should go by the old, kinda cliche saying “There is no such thing as a bad idea.”
It is amazing how even the most ridiculous idea from that quiet guy Bill in the office can lead to something truly great.
Other rules could be things like – You have to talk about each idea for at least 5 minutes before you can move to the next one, every idea needs to go on a sticky note and onto a board, or every person needs to give their opinion before moving on to something else.
No matter what the rules you choose are, make sure they are known early and make it an expectation that everyone sticks to them,
This goes against all the rules you will ever hear about setting a meeting, but when it comes to a brainstorming meeting, agendas are optional. If you want to make an agenda for your meeting, it can certainly help you stay on track if there are multiple things you are trying to knock out, but don’t force yourself to stick to it.
The beautiful thing about brainstorming is that it can take you down a path that you never expected to go down. The best ideas are often at the end of these other paths and as soon as a good line of creative thought gets going, it is best to just get out of the way and let it happen.
Assign a Note Taker:
This is so incredibly important. It might be hard to get someone to volunteer to be the sacrificial lamb of the brainstorming session, AKA the note taker, but this role is too incredibly important to miss. There are going to be a lot of thoughts, comments, and ideas flying around the room, most of which you will forget about later unless you do not have a person there to write it down. This person can also serve as the unofficial leader of the meeting – keeping it on track in case things get a little too far off-topic or the conversation switches to the latest meme.
Once the meeting is over, use these notes and make sure to send a recap to everyone involved. Hopefully, some good ideas came out of the meeting and there might be another good one you missed that the notes will reveal to you later.
I like to think one of the reasons why our name is SocialSurge Marketing is because I love brainstorming so much (Eric will tell you it’s not but don’t listen to him). A brainstorming session can be an incredibly useful tool whenever you seem to be out of ideas.