Some of the best ideas in the world have come from brainstorming sessions. The brainstorm was conceived in 1953 by an advertising executive named Alexander Faickney Osborn. If you’ve never been in a brainstorm, sometimes called an "ideation session," it is simply a creative way to think up new ideas by sharing free form thoughts out loud in a group. Today, you can participate in an in-person or online sharing of ideas; brainstorming is still a great way to shake loose an idea in any industry.
Facilitating a Brainstorming Session
If you’ve been assigned as moderator, your job is to keep the session on track, while still allowing for the flow of ideas. It takes some facilitation skiils to capture all those thought bubbles while managing what seems like a free-for-all. Here are a few tips for a brainstorming facilitator:
- Set Goals
Have some goals, including time goals. Review these with the group and set ground rules. For example, do you want them to talk over each other – or raise their hands before speaking? The free form expression of ideas is always great; but what if you have someone in the group who is shy or soft spoken? How will you handle the input from those “wallflowers” that have great ideas but are just a little reticent about sharing them?
- Have Energy
Energy is important to the creative process. If this is a business-related brainstorming session, do you want to hold it in the same office where you do the work, or perhaps go outside to a park? Your energy will drive the group, so make sure your enthusiasm establishes the tone.
- Understand your audience
It’s always better to know the participants in your brainstorming session, because the insights you have related to the personality mix in the room may be helpful to you as you try to keep things fun – but under control.
- The answer is always a question
Sometimes the best answers are tickled out of people by being the devil's advocate. You may want to jot down questions before hand, so that if the process stalls, you can relight the brainstorming spark.
- Location, location
Preparing the room or location is important. You should have a white board, flip charts or some way to capture ideas. Select a scribe to write things down while you “work” the process. Give your group crayons and paper, or some way to draw or write out ideas. Use sticky notepads and let participants post them under specific project related categories on a wall. Combining visual and verbal brainstorming is an interesting way to stimulate group-think.
- Ply them with chocolate
Leading with an activity may break the ice and get the blood pumping. Reward the first brave idea-sharers with chocolate; there’s nothing like getting the party started with flying Hershey’s kisses.
Artisan Talent has been leading the way in creative ideas since 1988. Contact us today to start brainstorming ways a short or long-term placement could change your business.