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How to run a successful brainstorming session

Bhupendra Sharma
14th Sep 2016
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Running a business is not as easy as it used to be 30 years ago. With ever increasing competitive pressure and the need for ingenious ideas, most of the business owners, CEOs and team leaders keep organising brainstorming sessions to ensure the think tank never runs out of fuel. However, 90 percent of these sessions fail miserably due to lack of perfect balance between creative thinking and common objective.

If you're running a business or working in an organisation where brainstorming sessions are part of work culture, you should know how to make the best use of them. Here are a few tips that can help you run a brainstorming session.

successful-brainstorming-session

Image : shutterstock

Location is important

Don't undermine the value of a suitable room for brainstorming sessions. If you try to organise it in the same hurdle room where most of the employees are criticised, condemned and complained every month due to various reasons, you won't get 100 percent results. If possible, arrange a separate room with big whiteboards, open windows, ample space, coffee machine (yes caffeine is essential) and everything else that can be substantial and sparkle positive energy.

Assign a session moderator

Brainstorming sessions are to find creative solutions to everyday business problems. They are meant to witness the free flow of ideas. However, this free flow can damage the whole purpose if not given a particular direction. That's where a session moderator is needed who can effectively communicate, control and direct the session. Someone who's loved by the staff and carry authoritative status in the organisation is best suitable for this role.

Specific purpose

Although everyone is expected to come up with their own set of creative ideas during a brainstorming session, they're of no use unless the end objective isn't achieved. Make sure each brainstorming session has a specific purpose and all the ideas/suggestions revolve around it.

Set ground rules and keep the session organised

Is it mandatory for every team member to attend the session? Should people participate in the discussion by raising their hands? Who will take the initiative to write down all the ideas? Can a participant interrupt other while he's speaking? Is yelling allowed? These questions can create confusion and spoil the session. So it’s better to set some ground rules and follow them in order to get maximum out of a brainstorming session.

No idea is a dumb idea

"There's no such term as dumb ideas. Just poorly executed awesome ideas."

Every team has a few team members who lack confidence. In order to make them participate in the session, you'll need to boost their confidence and convince them to express their thoughts. It's a brainstorming session and not a serious month-end hurdle. So, they can say whatever they want as long as it's related to the subject.

Note down all the ideas

No idea should go unnoticed. It's moderator's duty to note down all the ideas on a whiteboard or anything else as per the convenience and discuss them with the participants. For this, a brainstorming session can be divided into two or more sub-sessions. While the first half can be dedicated to the idea-sharing activity, the other half can be devoted to discussing the pros and cons of those ideas.

Take action

"An ideal brainstorming session starts with an objective and end with a solution."

Once all the ideas are shared, discussed and analysed, the moderator should give his opinion on the same and select one or more ideas that can be implemented.

As they say, "The only way to get good ideas is to discuss lots of ideas and then throw the bad ones away."

Every organisation has its own way of conducting brainstorming sessions. However, if you follow these steps, you can get maximum out of such sessions. Share your experience and inputs on how brainstorming sessions should go in the comment section below.

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