Often when we want more creativity on a team, we
say, "Let's brainstorm." While brainstorming has
become almost synonymous with creativity -- in the
organizational world in any event, it does
not always achieve the results the team needs. The
following are some suggestions to make sure a
brainstorming session produces extraordinary,
1. Don't stop at the first good idea.
ideas come after many ideas have been generated.
Don't let time pressures keep the team from
exploring lots of ideas that can contain the kernel
of the best solution.
2. Practice deferring judgement.
One of the main
reasons that brainstorming doesn't achieve promised
results is because we fail to put off judging the
ideas. It's much easier to criticize ideas than to
continue to build on them and and to generate even
more ideas. Hold the critic off until all
possibilities have been explored.
3. Make sure it's the right problem.
often our assumptions and current mental models
unconsciously frame a situation, and we end up
brainstorming about the wrong problem. Take the
and examine it from a variety of angles before
proceeding to solve it. Remember that a problem
correctly stated is half solved!
4. Keep politics and personal issues out of the
Be sure to keep the team focused on the session's
objectives. Team groundrules should prohibit
personality differences, political infighting, and
other personal issues from interfering with the
5. Don't forget about political and personal issues
during the brainstorming session.
At the same time, don't ignore political and
personal issues! If team members seem to have some
unresolved personal issues that are getting in the
way of idea generation, call a time out and address
the issue head on, as opposed to ignoring it.
Refusing to deal with the issue can greatly reduce
the producitivity and the fun of brainstorming!
The presence of senior managers in a brainstorming
session is another political challenge that can
seriously dampen the
generation of what may be seen as "wild and crazy
ideas." If senior managers must be present, ask
them to come up with some of their own strange and
offbeat ideas to set the tone. Alternatively, have
them agree up front to listen to the ideas and
only at the end.
See the next newsletter for more tips!