Innovation starts with a good brainstorming session. A brainstorming session is a meeting where members meet in a group to produce ideas or solve problems.
If a proper brainstorming session is hosted the right way-then rest assured your session may most likely produce effective products that will lead to success.
This blog lists out factors you should consider for a good brainstorming session. It also discusses brainstorming types and tools available to make your session more effective.
Implementing ideas from the brainstorming sessions is also discussed in the end.
Run a Successful Brainstorming Session
In order to conduct an effective brainstorming session you have to consider the following factors carefully:
Arrange Proper Environment for Team Members
The environment is an important factor for a successful brainstorming session. Ideally, you do not want to start a session AFTER your employees have had a tough day. Starting a brainstorming session before lunch hour isn’t smart too.
Starting a brainstorming session in the morning is an excellent idea. This is the time when the mind of your co-workers is usually fresh.
You also want to make sure your brainstorming session is in a meeting room that is equally comfortable for your co-workers. A quiet and comfortable room with enough chairs to sit should be enough to trigger ideas that you need.
This matters. Remember is these very people who will be the basis of your future project.
Give Care to Brainstorming Session Context
Give a brief introduction when the session starts. You may have people who are new to your company. Or It could be that you have team members who are not directly related to your project.
Give a brief intro, include some definitions to clear the cloud. If you have no-technical members, then be sure to never skip this step.
Reminding the purpose of the meeting is needed too. What are we trying to achieve from this meeting? What are the problems we are facing currently?
Be Diverse to Choose the Right Participants
Make your audience lively by inviting those coming from different backgrounds.
Let me give you an example from my experience. In my previous job, I worked in the IoT department. Although I did not come from a technical background I was invited to almost every meeting.
These meetings gave me a strong context of the department’s goals and strategy to meet the client’s needs. Later during the final stage of development of a project, these meetings would enable me to easily draft documents and manual for the project.
Track the Time during the Session
Time is the essence. Allowing a brainstorm session to exceed its time limit will fade away the spirit of your co-worker’s mind. Set the amount of time-preferably 20-22minutes.
Plan ahead what sort of outcome are you going to expect. Decide what should be explained to your audience so they will be able to communicate according to your context. Use a time tracker tool to help you out!
Having a plan will save time and prevent overthinking which is explained below.
Beware of Overthinking
This is very normal.
During a brainstorming session, you want the best outcome. So overthinking is inevitable. This does not just happen from your end. It also can happen to your members who are thinking with you.
To prevent overthinking, you need to control your group’s meeting. Prevent members from bringing in points that are irrelevant to the brainstorming session. This is done by politely recalling the limitation and context of the discussion.
Remember that you cannot aim for perfection. Once you aim for perfection you will overheat. This is only a simple discussion between you and your members.
There may not be enough ideas that are significant especially if the brainstorming session was held suddenly. And that is why the next point explained bellow is vital to make the best outcome.
Ask Team Members to Come Prepared
Do not just notify the date of the meeting to your co-workers, request them to become prepared as well. The benefits of planning stated above for yourself have been stated previously.
However, asking your members to plan equally will assist in making the brainstorming session more fruitful. Your brainstorming members will be quicker to animate ideas and have a smooth flow of discussions with one.
Choose Brainstorming Types
There are many types of Brainstorming. To save time, choose the one that will get the brainstorming session done faster. We have listed 6 brainstorming types.
1) SWOT Analysis
One of the most popular and simple ways to make the most out of a brainstorming session is to use the SWOT Analysis.
The SWOT analysis looks at a firm’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of projects, ideas or almost anything related to making big decisions for your business.
If you have an idea or project to be analyzed by your team let every member jot down the strength, weakness, opportunity, and threats. You will be surprised how many points will be out there to define your project’s possibility.
Although a SWOT analysis is commonly used in the business world, it can be used in almost any scenario.
2) The Five Whys
In this method, you start with a problem. Then you simply address the problem by asking “Why is this occurring ?” When you figure out the solution you then ask “Why is this happening ?”
You ask questions five times or more so that you arrive at the root of the problem.
3) Brain Netting
This brainstorming is a type of Quite Brainstorming.
Sometimes, participants may be unwilling to speak up openly or it may be impossible to set up a brainstorming session in-person. This is why quite brainstorming is used.
For brain netting, it requires the team to use the internet.
A person sets up a system where members share their ideas or solutions privately. Later, ideas are shared publicly for discussion.
Google Docs is a commonly used tool for this.
This is especially useful for remote teams
Brainwriting is also a type of Quite Brainstorming. Members of your group will write down ideas on paper or cards. Ideas may be shared with other members who will write down their own ideas. It does not have to be an idea, it may be criticism too. The
5) Collaborative Brainwriting
Collaborative Brainwriting equally falls under the Quite Brainstorming category.
Address your question on paper or a chart paper and post it in a public area. Then Request your team members to post their thoughts or solutions for a period of time. If you want a little privacy you can post this as a task online and track the discussion taking place.
6) Figure Storming
Here, a famous person is put into the shoes of the business’s context.
For example, Soichiro Honda, the founder of Honda Motors.
What would he do if he encountered this problem? How would Steve Jobs do if he needed to redesign from scratch?
This thinking process would bring out the best outcome if most of the members of the brainstorming session are familiar with the person of interest.
There are many free tools out there to help with your brainstorming session.
- Realtime Board: This application is awesome as you can turn your brainstorming diagram into a PDF file or a presentation. You start your work with a blank white screen. You can build your diagram by uploading images, files, and documents from google drive or your desktop. The application is free up to 3 members with 3 boards. Guests can also view your boards.
- Bubbl.us: After structuring your diagram you can turn your diagram into an image and share it with your team. However, the website allows you to create 3 mindmaps for free.
- MindMap: A free and opensource tool that is available offline, MindMap is fun to use as you can add images, URLs, sketch, and even embed videos onto your diagrams. You can also embed MindMap for your browser as an extension.
There are many free tools out there to assist you with your brainstorming session. The above list is not all.
But really you can use almost any editing software to do a brainstorming session. For example, you can even use Google Docs for brainstorming and add your co-workers to collaborate together for sharing ideas all in one file.
Make a Team Brainstorming Session Effective
So what comes after a brainstorming session?
Usually, the next step involves bringing the brainstorming session to life.
Then when it is time for bringing the project to life it is vital to assign your co-workers, set tasks,sub-tasks, have in-project discussions.
But then this gets complicated as bills need to be issued, product images need to be uploaded, graphs are needed to visualize an idea’s progress.
In that case, WP Project Manager Pro can help you with all these tasks. It is a bundle that leads you to bring your brainstorming session to life.
If you use a Wordpress website then you are good to go. The WP Project Manager has plenty of amazing features, particularly that also enables remote-work.