8 Steps For You to Conduct a Kick-Ass Brainstorming Session
Solving problems and generating solutions it’s part of everybody’s life. We are constantly challenged with situations that can only be surpassed by coming up with very creative solutions, but having a creative solution to everything it’s not that easy. In fact, creativity isn’t something you can learn, it’s more like something you are born with. So, what happens if you are not part of the “creative bunch” and you need to come up with an awesome idea? Well, you have two options:
[THIS IS NOT THE RIGHT OPTION] You do the “Melania Trump Special”, which means you have to take somebody else’s great idea or concept, give it a few twitches and voilá, you have yourself a not so great “new idea”. This option is evidently not the one you should follow, unless you have a soft spot for republican xenophobic trophy wives.
[THIS IS THE RIGHT OPTION] Conduct a kick-ass Brainstorming session. You just have to gather your team and start firing ideas like Eminem on 8 Mile -he made it through the movie with Mekhi Phifer’s horrible hairdo by his side so you’ll be ok with your team-.
But brainstorming it’s not just about giving ideas all willy-nilly, as a matter of fact there’s a pretty serious structured process behind this very organic and relaxed creative method. It’s the same old same old “If you want to get from point A to point B you have to… bla, bla, bla” BS. Well in this case, it’s very helpful to know how to do it right so you can get the most out of it.
Enough with the jibber jabber, here are 8 steps you should follow to conduct a proper Brainstorming Session:
- Prepare your group: Set your meeting in a comfortable place and be sure that you have the necessary tools for the activity. Also you should have some snacks and refreshments -depending on the nature of your brainstorm you can have a beer or two… or three-. Remember, the idea is to get the creative juices flowing so as long as the team is relaxed they’ll be more comfortable sharing their ideas.
- Initiate the session with an “icebreaker”: Propose a water cooler chatter. Any subject that will make your team loosen their tongues will do the job. You could start talking about how awesome of a movie Suicide Squad was… -that’s a joke, that movie sucked. Really bad-, but you’ll probably get your team talking about something before you bring the real subject to the table.
- Present the problem or creative challenge: This is important, a poorly designed challenge can produce a bunch of useless ideas. Be as clear as possible at defining your problem. Like this: “How can we make Suicide Squad a decent movie?”. No joke, the critics just destroyed it.
- Establish a timeframe: We don’t want this to take all day, so you need set a time limit for your team for them to bring their ideas to the table. In that period of time you’ll be taking notes of every single thing that comes out of your team members’ mouth. You never know if the solution to your problem it's going to come out while the team is rambling about the subject.
- Use your board… or your window: Start taking notes of all the ideas your team members are giving to you. Don’t criticise or discard any idea. No matter how dumb, silly or remarkably stupid they are, everything goes on the board. You should even encourage your team to give bad ideas, always keep in mind that one of the most important companies in the world has a crappy but really catchy name… Apple.
- Idea rating: Give every idea a 0 to 5 rating. The ones with the highest points go to the final phase and their authors receive a chocolate -this is called Positive Reinforcement and it works perfectly on domestic animals, not that we’re calling anybody a domestic animal-.
- Idea selection: Choose the idea or solution that best suits your needs and start implementing it.
- Close the session: This is the moment when you congratulate your team members on a solid brainstorming session and give them a high five. If everybody is ok with it, you can wrap it up with a good old baseball ass-slap.
In the best of cases, brainstorming will help you find the solutions to your problems. Also it’s a very powerful team bonding experience, everybody gets to throw an idea and at the end of the day, they feel like they played an important role in the whole process. Always remember not to criticise any idea and to encourage creativity.
You can have a brainstorming session for just about everything, so don’t hesitate on using this method whenever you need it.
Fun fact: We had a brainstorm session to structure this brainstorm how-to blog post.