This post responds to a request for the tasks to do before, during and after a brainstorm. Go to the bottom for links to the other posts.
Here are the basic tasks to do during the brainstorm, with the primary objective to inspire creativity and minimise all negativity.
Step 1: Set the tone
The atmosphere should be set the moment people arrive. It should “feel fun.” At the same time, minimise distractions – whether it’s ‘external” (such as obtrusive noise, catering, etc.) or ‘personal” (such as people’s mobile/cell phones, BlackBerrys, etc.
Step 2: Quickly and authoritatively review the rules as needed … and stick to them!
- No negativity. Suspend or defer judgment on all ideas until the end.
- Focus on the problem. What do we have to impact or address? What are unusual ways to fix our problem?
- Write everything down. Put all of the ideas on flipchart pages so everyone can read them. Encourage people to re-read pages to combine earlier ideas with later ideas.
- Go for quantity, not quality. Generate as many ideas as possible (see the 90/10 rule).
- Build on ideas. Make every idea better. Merge smaller ideas into one better idea. Everyone participates. No one dominates.
- Have fun. A welcome and often humorous environment means people are more relaxed, which also means people tend to be more comfortable talking about unusual, different, odd or provocative ideas.
Step 3: Quickly review key pieces of information (objective, central problem, key issues)
Review only the necessary details in a two minutes or less. Answer any general questions.
Step 4: Start with an ice-breaker or warm-up.
Like an athlete who warms up their muscle before a work-out, begin with some mental games to get the creative juices flowing.
Step 5: Generate as many ideas as you can! GO!
Push beyond the obvious. Provoke for fresh ideas. Don’t worry if the ideas get too “other there.” It’s easier to tame a wild idea than try to inject excitement into a boring idea.
Step 6: Have toys, games and exercises ready if creativity and energy lags.
Typically brainstorms start out well, but then momentum and emotions wilt after the first rush of ideas. Have things immediately available to provoke and re-stimulate the imagination.
After (about) 60 minutes, you should have a wall full of flipchart paper filled with ideas – not all good ideas, but ideas nonetheless.
Here’s what to do Before The Brainstorm.
Here’s what to do After The Brainstorm.