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Brainstorming Best Practices

Use brainstorming effectively within your business

Brainstorming is a great tool to increase innovation within your business. Frankly, you can brainstorm on your own to generate ideas; but for the purposes of this post we are going to focus on brainstorming with others.

Follow these tips to create a successful group brainstorming environment:

  • Set aside at least 2 hours for the brainstorming session. If possible, take the brainstorming session out of the office to an environment where you and the team won’t be disturbed or distracted.
  • Send information to participants ahead of time: What is the purpose of the brainstorming session? What are you trying to accomplish? This gives them time to begin thinking about the session.
  • Get a facilitator for the session. You need someone to keep the brainstorming session going, ensure participation and keep track of ideas on a whiteboard.
  • Set ground rules for the brainstorming session. Some to consider include:
    • All ideas are good – don’t think about them too much, just state your idea – be creative: it’s OK if an idea is “out there!”
    • Expand on others ideas if you can, but don’t dismiss or criticize another’s idea
    • Etc.
  • Keep track of every idea (the facilitator’s role) on a whiteboard so the ideas are visible to all participants

When done, and there are no more ideas being generated, have the participants review all the ideas. Look for commonalities and trends. This will enable you to reduce the amount of ideas you have gathered during the brainstorming session.

Then, narrow down the ideas further:

  • What’s practical for your business?
  • What can be done with the resources you have?
  • What will generate the most revenue or be of the most benefit to customers?
  • Etc.

It may take a few times to effectively narrow down the list to get to 2 – 3 ideas you can run with.

Consider using a mind mapping software to help in brainstorming. I have used mind mapping software and hooked my laptop up to a LCD projector displayed on a screen for all participants to view.

See this simplified example of trying to make a decision as to what kind of pet to get. Of course you can probably come up with many more pros and cons – but it gives you an idea of how to use a software tool to capture your ideas!

Decision Map

Let’s see, what is the right pet for me; Hmm…

How about you? How have you used brainstorming effectively in your business? Please share your thoughts in the Comments field below! Thanks!

Related posts: Collaborate! It’s a Team Effort!

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