1. Set the scene. When deciding where to hold your next brainstorming meeting,choose a comfortable, well-lit environment. Remove all distractions and ask that you not be interrupted.
2. Gather a diverse group. Like-minded people are less likely to generate a broad range of ideas than people with different thinking styles. If possible, include people you wouldn’t ordinarily invite. A fresh point of view is extremely valuable. If people aren’t used to working together, try a warm-up exercise to help make everyone comfortable.
3. Use a visual tool. Before starting the meeting, appoint one person to write down ideas. Use a whiteboard or large sheet of paper to write down any and all suggestions. Use diagrams to connect and arrange ideas. As brainstorming slows, revisit and develop popular themes.
4. Encourage wild and half-baked ideas. Be sure to keep an open mind, even when it comes to ideas that may seem silly. These ideas are often the most creative and you can always scale them back to fit the project. Withholding judgment also allows everyone to feel free to participate.
5. Build on the ideas of others. Brainstorming isn’t just for generating new ideas. More importantly, it’s about combining and extending ideas. When discussing emerging themes, encourage the group to flesh out the ideas and build on what the participants suggested.
Good luck with your brainstorming! What prompted your most successful brainstorming sessions? Let us know in the comments below.