Brainstorming encourages open and ongoing collaboration to solve problems and generate innovative ideas. It allows your entire team to get all of their ideas out and put the best ones into action. It encourages critical thinking, explores other team members’ ideas, and builds trust within your team. Here are a few tips to help make your brainstorming sessions more impactful and effective.
1) Analyze the Situation
Before you start bouncing ideas off of one another, it is important to analyze the situation at hand. A SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats) can be a great tool to start understanding your situation at hand. A SWOT analysis allows you to understand the most important factors affecting your business and helps you discover the best direction to go forward with. Making a SWOT analysis takes plenty of discussion, prioritization, and execution of action plans. After completing a SWOT analysis, you’ll be able to identify unique strengths or areas for improvement in your business.
2) Challenge your peers
To get everyone’s best ideas out on the table, you’ll need to challenge them to think outside the box. Your team is more likely to come out of the brainstorming session with novel solutions if they use critical thinking during the brainstorming session and think outside of the box. Another way to challenge your team to get better results of a session is to examine possible roadblocks that can occur. Some examples of a roadblock could be that the product needs to be designed in a different language or needs to be designed for people who are colorblind. Identifying and discussing roadblocks will challenge your group to think of new solutions and be better prepared for anything that comes your way.
3) Watch out for groupthink
Groupthink is a brainstorm killer, and it’s a real concern for anyone facilitating a brainstorming session. If you’re not familiar with the term, it refers to instances when groups are able to arrive at the same conclusion without much critical thought. Groupthink shuts out external viewpoints and prevents the group from seeing things from a different perspective. In order to stop groupthink in its tracks, try and throw out a different question to various team members to keep the critical thinking alive.
4) Document Every Idea
Although you may not agree with everything that’s being said, keeping a running list of all the ideas discussed in the brainstorming session is important to keeping the session effective. Even if you don’t use most of the ideas that you’ve written down, developing some of the ideas further can lead to more possibilities. An idea can seem far-fetched at first but developing it more can lead to something better for the project, and of course, you can also reuse discarded ideas in the future.
5) Create action items
Sometimes after a brainstorming session, the people involved never remember anything about what became of their ideas, therefore, no action results from the meeting. No one wants their time wasted. So, at the end of a brainstorming session, it’s important to recap everything that the group came up with and create action items to move forward with. After you assign those action items to the appropriate members of the group, check-in regularly with the group to make sure everything is on track. This not only creates a plan of attack, it also provides clear deadlines and timetables, making it easier for your team to prioritize.
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