Monday, December 20, 2010


Seven rules for successful brainstorming

Two weeks ago I attended the most valuable brainstorming session I’ve possibly ever participated in. Not surprisingly, it was actively facilitated and set up with a crisp set of participation rules (which we actually practiced before diving into the real deal).

Below are the seven brainstorming rules we followed.  Some great stuff here worth incorporating into brainstorms and other meetings in your organization.

Answer the question.  This presupposes that there is a question, which means having a clear sense for what you’re trying to accomplish.  Set the question (or brief list of questions) in advance so you end up with answers that will help you.

Be visual.  This means being tactical, specific, actionable.  Describe what you’re thinking about in real terms.  Brainstorms are great for being creative, but make sure you can actively describe your ideas.

One conversation at a time.  Be polite, don’t talk over each other.  Listen more than you speak.  If you have a really good idea, instead of blurting it out, write it down until there’s a moment to share.

Defer judgment.  If you don’t like an idea, keep that to yourself.  Judgment will halt the creative process and momentum.  Keep answering the question and you’ll stay on track.

Build on the ideas of others.  Eventually in a brainstorm lateral movement happens, where the conversation shifts in a dramatically different direction.  Until then, listen to what others are saying and build upon that.

Encourage wild ideas.  The only box is the question being asked.  You will spark the creativity of others in the room with your own crazy ideas & thinking.

Go for quantity.  Write everything down, in rapid order.  Keep the energy level high, and use the rules above to keep momentum and creativity at an optimal level.



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