Brainstorming is one of those necessary and sometimes brutally draining part of the creative process. Through exposure, I’ve come to love the energy that comes from an exciting discussion. Here are some common factors I’ve learned when leading in a successful brainstorm:
Define the problem.
What am I trying to solve?
And more importantly, am I solving the right problem?
Diversify your participants.
In an ideal situation, hierarchy, departments, responsibilities, and prior minor disputes don’t exist and a brainstorm can just be a space to solve a problem.
But, since that usually isn’t the case, I would encourage inviting people outside of the department to participate. The more diverse the participates, the more diverse the ideas.
Create a safe space for any and all ideas.
In brainstorms, the number one culprit of creative flow is realistic thinking. Instead, welcome possibility. And when there is awkward silence, be the first with courage to say “what if…”
Take a walk.
There is inevitably a moment in a brainstorm where all the ‘easy’ ideas were put out and the brainstorm stalls to a halt. I’m often reminded that rarely do creative block get solved sitting in the same place. This a good moment for a coffee break or walking session. Our environment is indicative of creation. Sometimes the simplest act of getting up can spark an idea.
Close and make it real.
Reality returns. Any good idea is just an idea until something is done. Consolidation is the first task. I tend to take a moment to look at underlying commonalities and talk about group favorites. I found it helpful when I would leave the sporadic ideas and revisit it the next day with a fresh head. Often times, I find that brainstorms lead to more questions — but in the end I’m always a little closer than when I started.
Lastly, thank your community.
Brainstorms are so incredibly powerful because it comes from the strength of numbers. Most of the problems we solve today, are human problems and can’t be solved without a collective effort. So, thank people along the way.
And that’s it! With an open mind and a keen sense of humor — we can solve any problem.