Going to your first brainstorming session can sometimes be slightly frightening and you may be a little nervous about what to expect. Hopefully by reading the whole of this training course you will be much less concerned about it and will be looking forward to taking part with less brainstorming difficulties.
A brainstorming session that is run well will be a welcoming place for both you and your ideas. You should be made to feel part of the group and that you are tackling the problem as a group and are not being individually analyzed for the suggestions you make.
The main problems with brainstorming arise because the rules are either not set out or they are not followed. If you feel that many ideas are being met with stony silence or, worse, critical remarks and gestures then it is all going wrong. Just do what you can and make some helpful comments to the person running the session.
You could even let them know you have found this useful website (brainstorming.co.uk) and they may be interested in looking at it. The main thing to do if you have found yourself in a badly run brainstorming session is to make the best of it you can – and then to change it in the future. Don’t just give up.
Getting used to being a better brainstormer
The first few sessions you are involved in are likely to be strange because of the unfamiliar atmosphere and purpose. Brainstorming often flies in different directions at the same time and no final solution is in place at the end of it (that is done after the brainstorming session and is called an analysis session). You should familiarize yourself with the rules and techniques and encourage them to be followed. If in doubt take a copy of the rules from this website and make sure everybody knows them. Being in a very bad brainstorming session can sometimes have worse results than a normal business meeting and can have long lasting negative effects. Don’t just sit there, change the process or introduce people to the benefits of advanced brainstorming.
Navigating a less-than-ideal brainstorming session can be challenging, especially if you feel the atmosphere is too restrictive for open idea sharing.
Here’s how you can handle such situations on a personal level:
- Jot Down Your Thoughts: If voicing your ideas in a constrained session feels daunting, keep a record of them on paper. This allows you to contribute your thoughts to the session leader later or retain them for future discussions.
- Pre-Assess Your Ideas: In an environment where every idea might not be welcomed openly, it’s wise to internally vet your ideas before putting them forward. This way, you’re more likely to present well-considered suggestions.
- Cautious Introduction of Ideas: Start your suggestions with phrases like “This might sound out of the box, but…” or “While this might need further shaping…” This sets the stage for your idea, indicating that you’re aware of the brainstorming process’s nature and are open to collaboration and refinement.
- Utilize Breaks for Discussions: Breaks are an excellent opportunity to casually introduce or discuss advanced brainstorming techniques. This can be a more relaxed setting to explore new ideas or methods.
- Build on Others’ Ideas: Actively engage with and expand upon the ideas presented by others. This approach not only demonstrates your collaborative spirit but also helps foster a more inclusive and creative environment.
- Provide Gentle Feedback: Show approval through non-verbal cues when someone adheres to the brainstorming rules and subtly indicate disapproval when they don’t. A light-hearted mention of a ‘yellow card’ could serve as a reminder of the rules without being confrontational.
- Learn and Lead in the Future: Post-session, take the time to learn more about effective brainstorming. This knowledge can empower you to lead future sessions or contribute to their improvement.
- Balance Your Contributions: In future sessions, try to balance radical and sensible ideas to demonstrate that you are mindful of the rules while also being creatively ambitious.
- Embrace Your Creative Identity: Position yourself as someone creative within the group. Often, being perceived as a creative individual can lead others to be more receptive to your unconventional ideas.
- Remember, Perfection Isn’t the Goal: Understand that brainstorming is about the flow of ideas, not about presenting flawless solutions immediately.
These strategies aim to help you manage and make the most out of a restrictive brainstorming session, while also preparing you for more effective participation in the future.