7 Tips to Better Brainstorming

Brainstorming is an extremely powerful tool.  Most of us have likely been part of a brainstorming session before.  Sadly, it’s been my experience that about 9 out of 10 people have no clue how to brainstorm the right way.  So tonight I would like to offer 7 tips that may help us all be better at this most important skill.

7 Tips to Better Brainstorming

  1. Use an old fashioned flipchart to capture ideas.
  2. The person with the pen should never paraphrase.  Many times the person writing will hear something, paraphrase it, and the original intent of the idea or comment is lost.  This can really annoy people and possibly shut them down for the rest of the brainstorming session.
  3. Use as much paper as needed.  Often times people feel like they have to get all their thoughts on a single piece of flip chart paper… so they write smaller and smaller as they get to the bottom of the paper.  Then they start up along the sides.  Just flip the page man!
  4. Don’t discuss things during the actual brainstorming session.  There will be time to discuss and ask for clarification at the end.
  5. Don’t place extra emphasis, like underlining, on any one particular comment.  Often times the person with the pen will hear something they like and say something like, “Oh, great one!” as they underline the idea and write it in BIG letters.  This may cause others in the session to feel less valued since none of their ideas have been underlined.
  6. Ensure everyone participates equally.  This may require going around and allowing each person a turn.  In some cases we may need to break out the post-it notes if people are shy or there is a strong personality in the room shutting others down.  This post-it notes technique has a fancy name – nominal group technique.
  7. Don’t number the ideas or comments (like I am numbering these points).  People sometimes associate earlier ideas or comments as being better when in fact the best idea may be last.  So use bullets or dashes instead of numbers.

Give these 7 tips a try the next time you brainstorm… you may find they really help bring out the best in people.