Brainstorming is a free form approach to examining as broad a range of options as possible. Its most effective use is for developing ideas or identifying issues. A successful brainstorming session lets people be as creative as possible and does not restrict their ideas in any way.
Conducting A Brainstorming Sessions
- Encourage everyone to participate; do not hold back on any ideas, even if they seem silly at the time; the more ideas the better.
- No side bar discussions during the brainstorming session. That will come later.
- No judgment. No one can criticize another's ideas, not even with a groan or grimace!
- Let people hitchhike --- build upon ideas generated by others in the group.
- Write all ideas on a flip chart so the whole group can easily scan them.
Sequence of Events
- Review the topic, defining the subject of the brainstorming session. Often this process is done best as a "why", "how," or "what" questions, ("How many different ways can we define this issue?").
- Give everyone a minute or two of silence to think about the question.
- Go around the room to allow each person to call out one idea or issue at a time. Keep going around the room until everyone runs out of ideas. If a person that is called upon does not have an idea, he/she may pass. The meeting facilitator should enforce the ground rules ("No discussion! Next idea...").
- One participant or the facilitator should write down all ideas on the flip chart, pausing only to check accuracy.