You know the drill, people gather in the conference room to throw ideas together, to get the juices flowing so to speak. When a brainstorming session is successful, people participating get energized, great ideas are taken to the next level, and an action plan is made. The challenge is coming up with ideas to share isn’t easy, it could be exhausting to the point where the session can’t yield the results you hoped it would. The outcome of a brainstorming session shouldn’t rely on the participants- it relies on your good leadership skills.
The Mechanics: Holding an Effective Brainstorming Session
For a brainstorming session to be successful, you must have these three –
- A clear problem or question to be addressed- Everything discussed should revolve on solving said question or problem. If the problem isn’t clear, then how can you hope to get a clear answer? State the problem and make sure every participant understands this. You might think this is a common sense advice, but many people often forget this part.
- Direction- use good leadership skills to moderate or direct the discussion. It’s easy to get side tracked, especially when things get exciting. It’s your job to make sure the discussion doesn’t veer off the subject and that everybody’s on the same page.
- The right people- Select four to eight people who can contribute to the matter at hand, team members who are working on the project and one other person not working on the project, but can offer a fresh perspective on the situation.
Get the Juices Flowing
Start the meeting by stating the problem again, and then emphasize that there is no right or wrong answer. Ask everyone in the group to contribute one possible solution or idea. You’ll notice that after the first round up, participants will start contributing solutions that could be related or a better version of a previously given idea.
Sometimes, there will be a situation so challenging that no one can come up with a good idea to pitch in. What do you do? Put your good leadership skills to practice by asking probing questions related to the situation. Here are good questions to ask:
- What is the most time consuming or expensive way to solve this?
- What have we done already? Why didn’t it work?
- What can we do to solve this, if anything were possible?
- What barriers are preventing us from solving this? How can we eliminate those barriers?
- What are the underlying problems?
- Do we know anyone who has had similar challenges? How did they solve it?
The good thing about brainstorming is it builds up your team’s creativity, and if you hold brainstorming sessions regularly, the ideas will just compound until you have a limitless reservoirs of options for different situations.
A brainstorming session’s purpose is to generate a lot of ideas, not necessarily great ideas, but good ideas in a short amount of time. It isn’t designed to give you a perfect answer; its main purpose is to give you as many options as possible. From there, use good leadership skills to pick the best options and see which is best for the given problem. Such sessions usually last 30 to 45 minutes, but sometimes it can take longer than that depending on the problem to be solved or the number of ideas generated.
© 2013 Incedo Group, LLC