Brainstorming can be a great way to generate lots of potential solutions for a specific problem.
And there’s no better group to brainstorm with than your own staffers who hear about Finance, Accounting, Benefits and Payroll problems all too well.
But if you want to walk away with the best innovative ideas, keep these five rules in mind:
1. Suspend judgment
Brainstorming isn’t the time to criticize or compliment ideas.
If participants start going off on a critical tangent, rein them in. But urge folks to speak their minds about a problem they’d like to tackle.
2. Encourage wild ideas
It’s easier to tame a wild idea than it is to build on a weak one!
No doubt some of Orville and Wilbur Wright’s friends thought they were off their rockers too.
3. Aim for quantity
Quickly capture the essence of ideas – the goal is to have the most ideas possible by the end of the brainstorming session.
Later on, you can winnow out the truly crazy suggestions and the ones that just won’t work.
4. Build on others’ ideas
Good listening is key. Someone may pinpoint a problem, but be on the wrong track with a solution.
That’s where another participant can jump in and say, “Wait. Maybe this is the way to go.”
Participants must work to evolve the ideas of others and that starts with being interested and really listening to what everyone says.
5. Promote participation
If possible, have staffers write down their ideas before the brainstorming session.
That way, you can develop some ideas faster as a group.
As people start talking, you may get better ideas than what you started with. But coming in with written ideas gets the creative juices flowing.