A Few Brainstorming Tips
(An excerpt from the e-book/course How To Have
So far the lessons have been on ways to create ideas on your
own. For this lesson, I am reprinting a short article I wrote
on brainstorming with others.
The Key to Good Brainstorming
Have you been in a "brainstorming" session where
each person just defended their own ideas? Worse is when people
don't suggest ideas at all, for fear they'll be attacked. That's
no way to brainstorm. Brainstorming is using the power of many
minds, and ideas should flow freely and trigger other ideas.
How do you make that happen?
You have to have a good leader to have good brainstorming.
The leader isn't there to impose his will, though, but to stop
the imposition of anyone's will. His role is to stop criticisms,
arguments, and even strong opinions, at least in the first part
of the session.
A brainstorming session needs to be spontaneous, open and
uncritical. "Bad" or "silly" ideas can lead
to helpful ones, so suggestions have to be left un-judged at
first. To brainstorm effectively, you can't stifle the creative
process. The leaders job, then, is to make everyone feel free
to suggest any ideas.
An Example of Good Brainstorming
The scenario: your business needs to cut delivery costs. The
group throws out ideas and thoughts. "Let's not deliver,"
someone suggests, and when another starts to criticize, you remind
him of the rules. "Negotiate lower rates," somebody
says, "Or just find a company with lower rates," another
adds. Ideas like reducing package weight and charging customers
more are suggested, and lead to other ideas.
You keep it civil, take notes, and eventually call a halt
to this free-for-all part of the session. Now it's time to evaluate
and develop the ideas for whatever usefulness they may have.
To keep the creativity flowing in this stage, have participants
defend or develop ideas that are not their own. This brings new
insight to the idea, and prevents the problem of ego-identification
that causes people to get "stuck in a rut" with their
For example, ask the man who was critical of the idea of not
delivering to work with that idea. "We have to deliver,"
he might start with. Then he thinks for a second and says, "I
suppose we could deliver to central distribution points instead
of to the individual customer. The customer could drive a short
distance to pick up their order. That might save us on shipping."
Someone else suggests that the customers may like the arrangement.
They would be able to return the product immediately if they
were dissatisfied, with no need to pack and ship it. You assign
a couple people to look into it, and move on to the other ideas.
Good leadership keeps the whole brainstorming process working.
In the last example, you've even used a "bad" idea
to come to a possible solution...
Continued in the e-book/course How to Have New Ideas.
Want the rest of the book? It's my gift to you when you subscribe
to the Brainpower Newsletter (also free).
The subscription form is on the home page.