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

  1. 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?").
  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.