Brainstorming continues to be a powerful tool for coming up with new ideas and should be used within your team. A compelling brainstorm can result in team bonding and your next big idea. However, a brainstorm gone wrong can be an energy-draining waste of time.
Here are some of our top tips for holding a successful brainstorming meeting:
Don’t blast your entire marketing team with a brainstorm invite. Instead, think strategically about who actually needs to be there, and personally invite those people. Pro Tip: Use the “pizza rule” – invite the amount of people who you could feed with a large pizza (generally 3-6).
Make sure there is enough space for everyone to fit comfortably, and that the space is good for recording ideas. Either a whiteboard or table big enough for large sheets of paper will work nicely.
This gives everyone in the room a chance to speak. You could also consider going around in a circle and letting each person have a turn or passing if they want to.
Remember that agenda and list of questions you sent out before the meeting? Stick to it! Keep your meeting on time and stay on topic to generate the greatest amount of ideas.
Use a whiteboard or big pieces of paper on the table and number ideas as they come up. This adds a feeling of accomplishment, and serves as a mental pat-on-the-back for the group.
Don’t waste time criticizing silly ideas. This adds a level of negativity to the room and isn’t productive. Instead, encourage wild ideas and improve some by adding something else to it. You could also look at this as building on the ideas of others. Throughout your session, reinforce this philosophy and strive to not filter, judge or critique.
And take a respectful stance toward each idea. You want everyone in the room to feel heard, to have permission to speak, and to defer judgment during the brainstorm. Consciously or subconsciously, others will follow your lead. Pro Tip: Don’t attach people’s names to their ideas.
Make sure to thank your team for participating in the brainstorm session. Then send out the full list of ideas in a Google Doc or email after the meeting is over. You never know when inspiration may strike after reading through the list.
Did you use one of the ideas from your brainstorming session in a business decision? Let your team know! These follow-up steps are important because they show value in your brainstorming meeting and also empower your team to participate in the future.
Is your team burnt out on the traditional brainstorming meeting? Try one of these more creative approaches instead:
Tape a large piece of paper to a wall in a common area of the office (kitchen, bathroom, etc). with your prompt at the top and a pen attached. Leave it up for five days and see what responses you get.
Invite your team to a five minute “break” in the middle of the day, by sending an email with the subject line: “five-minute inspiration break (insert question here)” and ask your team to discuss via email. Pro tip: include a few of your own ideas in the initial email!