How to overcome group-related problems with brainstorming – free know-how

To overcome group-related problems with brainstorming, various strategies can be employed:

1. People Won’t Lose Their Inhibitions:

  • Reiterate the rules, emphasizing non-criticism.
  • Use their ideas as stimuli for others.
  • Control verbal and non-verbal criticism.
  • Conduct an amusing warm-up exercise.
  • Introduce participants before starting.
  • Encourage quieter members.
  • Work in smaller groups initially.
  • Remove or engage cynical senior managers.

2. Repetition of Ideas:

  • Utilize creative thinking techniques.
  • Change brainstorming techniques.
  • Reinforce the use of new stimuli in answers.
  • Acknowledge good answers and seek diversity.
  • Focus on different problem aspects.
  • Take breaks and change perspectives.
  • Divide the problem and tackle in parts.
  • Mix up seating arrangements.
  • Train in creative thinking.
  • Introduce new members from different departments.

3. Unnatural Session Flow:

  • Implement engaging warm-up activities.
  • Combine training with brainstorming.
  • Adjust room layout.
  • Use background music.
  • Encourage silly answers as stimuli.
  • Show transformation from silly to sensible ideas.
  • Incorporate humor.
  • Discuss and address process issues.
  • Ensure belief in creativity success.
  • Plan and inform about sessions in advance.
  • Manage dominating participants.

4. Struggle to Think Differently:

  • Introduce diverse creative techniques.
  • Provide brainstorming software.
  • Challenge current thinking patterns.
  • Encourage radical ideas and prevent regression.
  • Take breaks with clear starting points.

5. Brainstorming in Solitude:

  • Use brainstorming software for individual ideation.
  • Combine manual and software-based techniques.
  • Merge individual brainstorming with group sessions later.

6. Awkward Silences:

  • Normalize silence as part of the process.
  • Encourage patience and gentle questioning.
  • Use non-verbal encouragement.
  • Implement background music.
  • Lightly address the silence.

7. Session Dominance:

  • Facilitate inclusive participation.
  • Use individual notepads for idea collection.
  • Manage dominating participants tactfully.
  • Rotate idea sharing.
  • Involve managers in encouraging participation.

8. Non-contributing Members:

  • Engage them in session improvement.
  • Inquire about participation barriers.
  • Offer the chance to lead a session.
  • Collect written ideas.

9. Facilitator’s Role:

  • Encourage self-driven participant engagement.
  • Alter seating to decentralize facilitator focus.
  • Ensure authority figures are non-judgmental.
  • Provide individual stimuli sources.
  • Avoid unintentional idea criticism.

10. No Successful Outcome:

  • Analyze the process effectiveness.
  • Consider if current solutions are already optimal.
  • Reflect on group dynamics and brainstorming efficacy.

Each of these strategies addresses specific issues that can arise during brainstorming sessions, ensuring a more effective and inclusive process.

Whatever results you get you should try to analyze the brainstorming session and learn from it. How can you improve it next time? Who else should you bring along next time? Do you need to retrain or talk to some of the participants?

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