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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tips To Have An Effective Brainstorming Session

Brainstorming can be a highly effective technique for maximizing a group’s creative potential in order to generate ideas and determine which ideas are most likely to succeed.

To run a group brainstorming session effectively, do the following:

1. Organize
a brainstorming group of 8-12 people in a relaxed environment.

2. Select a leader and a recorder (they may be the same person), though the recorder should have an easy to understand hand writing.

3. Define the problem or idea to brainstorm. Write it out concisely and make sure that everyone understands it and is in agreement with the way it is worded.

4. If the issue is broad, break it down into smaller issues which can be brainstormed independently.

5. Set a time limit (i.e. 30 minutes) for the brainstorming.

6. Set up the rules for the session. They should include:
  • Letting the leader have control of the session;
  • Allowing and encouraging everybody to contribute;
  • Ensuring that no one will insult, demean, or evaluate another participant or his/her ideas;
  • Stating that no answer is wrong;
  • All ideas are welcome no matter how silly or far out they seem;
  • Building on others’ ideas;
  • Absolutely no discussion taking place during the brainstorming;
  • Recording ALL the answers unless it is a repeat;
  • Stopping when the time limit is up.
7. Once the brainstorming starts, participants share their ideas and the facilitator writes them down preferably so everyone can see them (use a white board or a flip- chart).

8. Keep in mind that most brainstorming sessions feature 2 or 3 “false finishes”, each followed by an explosion of new ideas, before the group has really exhausted its store of information and ideas.

9. Once the brainstorming is finished, write down about five criteria for evaluating ideas. It might be useful scoring each idea (i.e. 0 to 5) on each criteria in order to make evaluation.

10.Group the similar ideas together.

11.Eliminate responses that definitely do not fit.

12. Once ideas are narrowed down (i.e. to the top 5), discuss the remaining ideas in the group.

13. If there is not a clear winner, use a voting method.

14. Keep the record of all the ideas generated in the session even after choosing the best idea, as it might turn out to be not workable.