How to Run a Productive Brainstorming Session

brainstorming session

There is nothing quite as disappointing or embarrassing as a dull, unenthusiastic brainstorming session. The yawns, the deadpan looks, and the overall “I’d rather be fishing” mood are enough to put anyone off hosting a brainstorming session for life.

But what if there was a way to make your brainstorming session a productive employee collaboration?

There is, and if you carry on reading, you’ll learn what it is.

Brainstorming Session Killers

Failing to plan is planning to fail. However cliché, it’s still true. One of the biggest reasons thought collaboration sessions fall flat is because the host or facilitator failed to plan.

Walking into the room and “winging it” is more likely to lead you to sinking it!

Other reasons why brainstorming sessions fail to be enjoyable or deliver results are because stronger personalities might dominate the introverted ones, which leads to a lack of valuable input, it can go on too long and waste valuable work time without achieving anything, or it could just go in circles without any new, constructive information being added.

There are plenty of reasons why a brainstorming session can fail but let us instead look at how to run a productive brainstorming session.

How to Run a Productive Brainstorming Session

Just randomly gathering, or forcing, people to give you their ideas on a obscure topic is not brainstorming.

Participants need to be happy to attend, they need to be briefed and guided, and they need to be enthusiastic.

This is how you achieve that.

Plan

Planning a brainstorming session may sound counterintuitive as it is supposed to be a spontaneous collection of ideas, but just by laying down a basic foundation for your collaborative idea session, you can ensure that it’s most productive.

Assign a group leader or facilitator, make sure your collective minds are diverse; a broad mix of gender, race, ethnicity, and background adds infinite value to your idea pooling, outline your agenda, I.e., know what your goal is, and finally, break the ice.

Once you have a diverse, enthusiastic group of people, facilitated by a natural leader, who are all comfortable with each other, the ideas will flow like the great Mississippi.

Execute

Once you are all comfortable with each other, just get going.

One of the best ways to actually start is to air all the bad ideas. Encourage the group members to utter their most outrageous “solutions” to the problems at hand. This also leads to increased comfortability in the group and starts the creative juices flowing.

The facilitator should encourage elaboration. Should a group member give a one-sentence idea, follow up with the trusty old, “Yes! And?” Let the group members know that you want to hear their thoughts in detail, and once again, this will kick up the creativity in others.

Should the brainstorming session seem to lose its vigor and sail into the doldrums, you can reignite the flame by moving to a different location or setting aside 5-10 minutes for participants to silently ponder their ideas, write them down and bring them back to the group later.

In addition, ensure that everyone has a chance to contribute and be heard, stick to the time allotted, and write all the ideas down.

You can also use these methods in other situations, such as problem-solving in the great outdoors or in the classroom.

Team Work Makes the Dream Work

Brainstorming is no longer a painful, forced collaboration between people who otherwise would not interact. It is a modern, practical way of getting the best ideas out of people.

Do not let a previous unpleasant experience with brainstorming make you hesitant to try again.

The ideas presented to you here today are sure to make your next brainstorming session a highly productive one.

So, what are you waiting for? Get brainstorming! Plan, execute, and bring out the best in yourself and those around you.