By Bryan Rusche
The key belief behind brainstorming is that if you get as many ideas as possible, you increase the likelihood of getting the best possible solution. You gain increased buy-in and commitment to the solution through collaborating as a group and getting input. According to research, giving employees a voice and involving them in decision-making increases motivation and improves engagement.
Although beneficial, brainstorming has also received some criticism. Many studies have pointed out that brainstorming does not produce more ideas than a group of individuals coming up with ideas on their own. There are definitely best practices you want to follow for a successful brainstorming meeting.
This purpose of this post is to help you facilitate a great brainstorming session, particularly if you use it in conjunction with the Brainstorming Workbook. The workbook will provide you with a basic plan for conducting an effective session lasting two hours to a full day for up to 25 people. A more thorough background on effective brainstorming methods and best practices can be found below.
A brief background on brainstorming
Brainstorming is a technique for finding the best solution to a known problem or challenge. The core belief of brainstorming is that getting as many solutions as possible increases the chances of finding the best solution.
To begin, ideas are shared in an environment where criticism and debate are suspended. There are two reasons behind this:
- Brainstorming advocates believe that seeing or hearing others’ ideas will prompt new ideas
- Suspending criticism and debate makes it safe to share and prevents self-editing or withholding of ideas. In this stage, encourage wild ideas to add new perspectives to the pool of ideas.
The next stage is a process of combining and improving on ideas. It’s at this stage that criticism or debate should be introduced. For example: is it a feasible idea to implement? It’s likely that the discussion will create new ideas or combine ideas. It’s the introduction of constraints at this stage that may produce additional creativity and result in coming up with a better quality idea that everyone has buy-in for. Most of the criticism of brainstorming misses this key stage as an important part of the process. It’s here that the real value of brainstorming is realized.
Finally, don’t forget the last (and crucial step) of making a decision: assigning accountability to fully evaluate the implementation of the idea and the timelines for accomplishing it. The group may need to come together for additional meetings to work through new constraints that are identified. It’s obvious, but worth stating that you don’t have innovation unless your idea actually gets implemented.
Summary of basic brainstorming technique
- Come up with as many ideas as possible
- To accomplish this, withhold criticism and welcome wild ideas
- Only when this is complete should you start combining and improving ideas
- Make a decision, assign accountability and an expectation to fully evaluate and report back to the group
1) Brainstorming in group produces fewer ideas than individuals ideating on their own
There’s a good deal of research demonstrating that groups do Go to the full article.