We’ve all been stuck in a brainstorm that felt more painful than productive — but they don’t have to be that way! Hold a more productive brainstorm that produces more meaningful conclusions by implementing one (or more!) of the ideas below during your next meeting.
- Pick one specific issue you’re trying to resolve.
Before you even set a date for your brainstorm, know exactly what it is you want to accomplish — and only have one thing. Don’t overwhelm your attendees by asking too much of them. Have a singular focus for your brainstorm and, if you have more challenges to solve, plan additional sessions.
- Consider who you invite.
When scheduling the meeting, invite people from your larger team who aren’t directly involved in the problem or project to gain some differing perspectives. Has your team completed any personality tests or the StrengthsFinder? Audit the personalities you’re bringing to the room and invite some people who literally think differently.
- Prep the team beforehand.
Send your attendees the topic and any relevant information ahead of the scheduled brainstorm so they have some time to think through the issue. This will save you from having to use meeting time to explain the situation and it gives your team time to do some personal brainstorming and research beforehand.
- Reduce distractions.
Help keep the focus on the task at hand by reducing the distractions in the room. Book the conference room without the glass walls or consider making the session device-free and ask attendees to leave laptops and smartphones in their offices to avoid interruptions.
- Make a creative space.
Is the room you’ve reserved conducive to fresh thinking? If it’s more stark than inspiring, consider bringing in toys or playing some background music to boost the mood. During our BrandCamp workshops, we stock our conference room with custom activity sheets, crayons and themed snacks to help our attendees to loosen up and think creatively.
Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and consider how they would answer. This technique, called figure storming, can bring an entirely new perspective to the conversation. You can use any figure from your boss to a celebrity, but a familiar starting place is to ask: What Would Abe Lincoln Do? Challenge your attendees to think outside the box — and themselves.
- Collaborate online.
Sometimes the best ideas don’t happen during scheduled brainstorming sessions. A great way to capture ideas that happen after the discussion is to use an online collaborative tool such as Trello or Slack. This gives everyone a chance to share their ideas — and gives you a record for moving forward and putting those ideas in motion.
What creative tactics have you used to foster more productive brainstorms? Let us know in the comments!