Brainstorming sessions can do your company a world of good, if done correctly. If done incorrectly, they’re at best a waste of time. If you want creative solutions and innovative new ideas, you need to put some time and effort into building a great brainstorming team and getting it running properly. Here is what you need to have in order to hold successful brainstorming sessions.
A Varied Team
You need people who are very different from each other, and who are also different from you. A group of people who all think the same way aren’t going to produce a lot of innovation. Bring in people from different departments, of different ages, and with different perspectives. When you have a lot of people who see things differently, you’ll have a lot of different perspectives, and many chances to create something new.
An Open Mind
Different people have different ways of approaching a problem. Some can only come up with solid ideas if they bring them out in a silly manner. Some need to throw out random, disconnected ideas until they start making sense. Some need to talk out a dozen bad ideas before finding a good one. Therefore, all the team members need to have an open mind, and to make sure they hear all ideas without being too judgmental. A good brainstorming session should not be too serious–it should be an opportunity for everyone to feel free to say anything they like.
A Good Leader
A brainstorming session leader is not there to make demands or wield authority. Instead, the leader needs to bring some unity to the group. The role of the leader is to forge agreements between people, stop undue criticism, and ensure that everyone in the group is given a chance to participate and be heard. More specifically, the leader should take care of the following tasks:
Outline the Topic
The first step is to describe the problem the company is facing. The leader must explain the problem in-depth so that every member can fully understand the matter and be able to generate ideas to solve it.
Make Sure that All the Team Members Share Their Ideas
The leader must make sure that everyone is allowed to share his or her ideas. The leader should discourage criticism before any idea is fully described in order to encourage everyone to open up.
Every idea brought up by the members is potentially valid and useful, even if you don’t see its value or use right away. The leader should therefore write down all of the ideas that were brought up so they can be examined later and the useful points figured out.
Referee the Criticism
Criticism is a necessary part of brainstorming, but it must be handled well. The leader should allow everyone to oppose each idea after it has been explained, as long as it is done respectfully and without personal animosity. The leader needs to see when things look like they’re getting heated and pump the brakes before arguments start.
Remember, brainstorming is not something that “just happens,” it is something that you have to make happen. If you set up your brainstorming team to have a lot of different perspectives, and run it in a way that keeps the exploration moving without turning into arguments, brainstorming sessions can prove to be one of the best tools in your business arsenal.
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