A brainstorming session can just about accomplish anything from complex business problems to a startup trying to identify what new feature their product should offer customers. However in order to maximize the rewards from a good brainstorm, key brainstorming ground rules should be established and followed at all times.
Here are fundamental brainstorming ground rules you should never forget to practice:
Clearly establish what problem you are trying to solve
One of the biggest brainstorming ground rules people tend to forget is clearly scoping and establishing the problem statement. During heated debates or when abundant ideas are being strewn across the room; it is easy to forget why people gathered around the table in the first place. Have a designated person ensure that the brainstorming session is brought back on track when things move off topic. When establishing what it is you are trying to solve, it is also important to state the scope. You may end up spending days try to solve a problem that only affects a very small area; so be very concise – time is precious.
No idea is a stupid one
As mentioned in a previous post about brainstorming strategies, one of the most important brainstorming ground rules is to accept all ideas as useful; even if it is for the initial stages. People should feel comfortable to share ideas and to feed their creativity irrespective of how silly things may come out.
A brainstorming session may seem like an informal exercise, however minutes are just as important. Minutes will not only refresh attendees minds after the session but will also provide a reference for people who did not attend the meeting. Keep minutes as detailed as possible to ensure that it can also be used as a source of accountability. Send emails out as soon as possible to ensure that all brainstorming attendees can read and improve upon the minutes.
Decide on the brainstorming techniques
There are a plethora of brainstorming tools out there that can facilitate a successful brainstorming session. These include affinity diagrams, Ishikawa (fish bone diagrams), Impact ease matrices etc. The key however is to not get bogged down on the technicalities – instead choose tools that everyone in the brainstorming session are familiar and are comfortable using. Remember simplicity is key.
Exhaust all options
The fun thing about brainstorming is that even the strangest idea may spark another brilliant one. Remember to properly analyze all avenues or to use existing ideas as a springboard for appropriate solutions. Good questions to ask are “What if?” and “why?” These questions will surely uncover a deeper truth.
Choose your team members wisely
Have a brainstorming session filled with different perspectives. One of the most useful brainstorming ground rules is to choose team members wisely. After establishing what it is you are trying to uncover; generate a list of skills or expertise which is likely to bring about the solution your require. Next identify the people with these skill-sets and include them in the session. There is likely to be a lot of complex group dynamics to work around; therefore practicing tolerance is key to ensuring a worthwhile brainstorm.