Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a common technique used in project management planning to generate ideas and solutions for a project. It involves bringing together a group of people, encouraging them to think creatively, and capturing all of the ideas that are generated.

 

Here are some best practices for conducting a brainstorming session in the context of project management planning:

  1. Define the problem or opportunity: Before conducting a brainstorming session, it's important to clearly define the problem or opportunity that the project is addressing. This will help to focus the brainstorming session and ensure that the ideas generated are relevant and aligned with the project's goals.

  2. Assemble a diverse group of people: Brainstorming is most effective when it involves a diverse group of people with different backgrounds, perspectives, and expertise. This will help to generate a wide range of ideas, and it will ensure that all perspectives are considered.

  3. Encourage creative thinking: The goal of a brainstorming session is to generate as many ideas as possible, so it's important to encourage creative thinking. This could involve using techniques such as lateral thinking, mind mapping, or the "six hats" method to stimulate creativity and encourage participants to think outside of the box.

  4. Capture all ideas: During the brainstorming session, make sure to capture all of the ideas that are generated. This could involve using a whiteboard or flipchart, or using a digital tool such as a shared document or online whiteboard. It's important to capture all of the ideas, even if they seem impractical or unrealistic, as they may provide the seeds for more practical and achievable solutions.

  5. Evaluate and prioritize the ideas: After the brainstorming session, it's important to evaluate and prioritize the ideas that were generated. This could involve using a decision-making framework, such as the Six Sigma DMAIC methodology, to evaluate the ideas based on their feasibility, cost, and potential impact. The most promising ideas can then be prioritized and included in the project plan.

Conducting a brainstorming session is a valuable tool for project management planning, as it can help to generate a wide range of ideas and perspectives that can be used to inform the project plan.

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.

Successful Brainstorming Guidelines

There are certain guidelines that should be followed during a brainstorming session to ensure that it is productive and effective

  • 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 sidebar 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

  1. Review the topic, defining the subject of the brainstorming session. Often this process is done best as a "why", "how," or "what" question, ("How many different ways can we define this issue?").
  2. Give everyone a minute or two of silence to think about the question.
  3. 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...").
  4. One participant or the facilitator should write down all ideas on the flip chart, pausing only to check accuracy.