Understanding the Purpose of Brainstorming
- Identifying the Need: Determine if brainstorming is the appropriate method. It’s ideal for generating ideas, not for analysis or decision-making.
- Defining the Scope: Clearly define the problem or opportunity area with a specific statement, avoiding suggestions of potential solutions.
Planning the Session
- Appropriateness: Assess if brainstorming is the best approach. Consider other methods like computer simulation for problems not requiring perception change.
- Facilitator Selection: Choose a neutral facilitator, especially if the topic is sensitive or involves personal evaluations.
- Diverse Grouping: Mix colleagues from different departments or companies for a variety of perspectives. Avoid limiting the group to familiar colleagues.
- Group Size: Opt for groups between 4 and 30. Larger groups offer diversity but may lead to logistical challenges.
Room and Material Setup
- Seating Arrangement: Use a circular or U-shaped layout for equality. Avoid a “head of the table” setting.
- Materials: Provide flipcharts, colored pens, notepads, and if using advanced techniques, specialized software or prompt cards.
- Room Features: Ensure the room is comfortable with space to move. Include central objects for focus and set up an overhead projector if needed.
- Dedicated Secretary: Have a person solely responsible for recording ideas.
Adjustments for Different Group Sizes
- Smaller Groups: Emphasize advanced techniques for idea generation and foster a conversational atmosphere.
- Larger Groups: Consider a theatre-style setup but be mindful of the potential for lost ideas in very large groups.
Preparing Participants and Sending Invites
- Scheduling: Find and reserve the room for multiple time slots.
- Invitations: Send detailed invites with location, time, and session topic. Include deadlines for responses.
- Follow-ups: Remind participants of the deadline and adjust plans based on responses.
- Software Tools: Consider using brainstorming software like Brainstorming Toolbox for idea generation.
- Advanced Brainstorming Training: Explore more techniques and tips from specialized training resources.
It’s crucial to create an environment that encourages open communication and values every participant’s input. The success of a brainstorming session largely depends on the preparation and the mindset of both the facilitator and the participants.