Brainstorming

Tips for effective brainstorming.

< 24 pers.

30 min.

Flipchart paper and/or markers or Post-it notes and pens

Outline

Participants are introduced to the following brainstorming rules, which help to ensure a creative atmosphere in which all participants can freely express their ideas:

  1. Our aim is to generate as many ideas as possible to have a greater choice when looking for ideas to implement.
  2. Ignore any outside obstacles such as a lack of funds or know-how, the government's ignorance, or a lack of time because drawing attention to obstacles limits creativity.
  3. We do not comment upon ideas expressed by others; under no circumstance is it allowed to criticise others' ideas.
  4. We make use of the ideas expressed by others and use them as a springboard for developing new ideas. We understand that brainstorming is a team effort; there is no point in being protective about one's own ideas or in being afraid to develop another's ideas.
  5. We focus on new and unorthodox ideas because stating what is already done offers no added value.
  6. We avoid stating general intentions but focus on concrete actions instead.

During the actual brainstorming session, one person writes down all the ideas that are expressed by the group on a flip chart. The moderator must ensure that this process is speedy and not disrupted by participants not getting to the point, deviating from the topic, or beginning to discuss the feasibility of expressed ideas.

Comment

Effective brainstorming requires a clear understanding of the problem and the issue that ideas are being sought for. An open and stimulating atmosphere in which participants are willing to express their ideas is also very important. In reality, however, many brainstorming sessions do not achieve the intended effect because a small number of participants dominate the process or the group remains passive and does not enter into a creative mood. In practice, written brainstorming methods such as 6.3.5. often prove to be more effective because everybody is involved.

What to do if...

  • participants keep focusing on obstacles?

    Change the rules, for example, "Imagine that we have at our disposal EUR 100,000. What will we do with this money?"

  • expressed ideas are too general and vague?

    Repeat the brainstorming session and focus the participants' attention on How can we achieve this?

  • participants begin discussing the feasibility of expressed ideas?

    Stress that after the brainstorming phase there will be a separate session dedicated to analysing the ideas.