Why brainstorming doesn't really work
Our best ideas come when we’re not consciously thinking about them.
Therefore, gathering people together in a room to consciously come up with ideas is the exact opposite.
That’s not to say that brainstorming sessions don’t have some value in generating a selection of ideas which can then be built upon.
The problem is that it’s often the people with the loudest voices who dominate the discussion. The less outgoing participants may end up concealing their ideas for fear of ridicule.
One way to combat this is instead of starting around a big table with with everyone trying to come up with ideas together, you can ask people to come up with their own ideas first and bring them to the group.
The other critical thing to get right before you start is a clear definition of the problem that you’re trying to solve.
As Einstein reportedly said, “If I only had one hour to solve a problem, I would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and then five minutes solving it.”
Appoint a facilitator to write the problem in a question format on a white board. They are responsible for mediating the group and taking note of all the suggestions.
Lastly, ensure that you use all the ‘brain capital’ in your organisation. Don’t just ask for ideas from the ‘creative types’.
The Four Rules for Brainstorming:
Get out as many ideas as possible. Quantity over quality.
There are no bad ideas. Don't criticise other people's suggestions.
Welcome as crazy ideas as possible.
Build on other people’s ideas.
Once you’re session is complete it’s a good idea to then start categorising and prioritising the ideas that merit further exploration.