Keys to effective brainstorming
Brainstorming is a useful tool to be utilized on any management team.You will want to include this when working with your peers and working with the employees you manage.However, brainstorming is more than putting people into a room and talking about ideas.You will need to balance the discussing in the right direction while supporting a free flow of ideas.
Brainstorming is a tool for generating as many ideas or solutions as possible to resolve a problem or issue.It is not the tool you will use to determine the best solution, however.Your goal for a brainstorming session is to get as many ideas as possible out in the open.Discussion and analyzing these ideas will come later.
You will need to set the ground rules before beginning any effective brainstorming session.However, you must be careful not to set the rules so tight that you can't get fun or be creative.What is important is that you have control of the conduct of how people react to each other.When people act negatively to each other's ideas, the creativity will come to an end.
You may find the best way to set the ground rules is to explain the objectives of the brainstorming and how it should work and then let the participants set the rules.This way they understand the rules and they will respect them more because they made them.However, you will need to monitor the discussion to make sure the objectives are met.Additionally, it will act as a mini brainstorming session and it will give the participants an opportunity to practice brainstorming before the real session starts.
Additionally, you may find it beneficial to post the agreed upon rules to refer to later and for the group to keep them in mind as the brainstorming begins.The ground rules are key to having a successful brainstorming session.Criticism of ideas will kill a brainstorming session faster than anything else.
The most important ground rule is that there are no dumb ideas.The brainstorming session is supposed to be fun and creative.A silly suggestion is OK and encouraged that might be the thought that sparks another thought that leads to the best solution possible.All ideas are equal and welcome.
Don't criticize any idea.You are not leading a debate.Nobody needs to display how smart they are or why their idea is better.
Everyone can develop each other's ideas.As the ideas are suggested, all should feel free to build on the last idea to get to the next.As the facilitator, you can encourage this behavior.Be careful not to squash the free thinking or direct it in a direction that you prefer.
This may be one of the few times you focus on quantity instead of quality.The more ideas you get the better.You can develop each idea later.Now is the time to get the most ideas out there before the analyzing begins.
You will also want to record the ideas.You may want to do that with a recording device, but a dry erase board may be ideal.You can then see the ideas as they flow and then build on them.You may want to have the recorder be more of a creator instead of `Mr. Organized'.Often Mr. Organized will only record those things he finds value in.The more creative person will usually try to record everything.
In summary, effective brainstorming is an effective tool to find solutions to problems.However, the brainstorming needs to have ground rules to be effective.Your job as the manager is to be the facilitator to make sure the ground rules are followed and not to guide the session.
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