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Planning A Brainstorm From A to Z – Part 2

In Part 1, we discussed that if you’re looking for creativity and innovation, you need to have a plan. We also covered from A to M. If you missed Planning A Brainstorm From A to Z – Part 1, start with Part 1 first. In Part 2, we complete our brainstorm checklist that will help you plan and execute a brainstorming session.
No “No” – While it is highly likely that this was covered in the ground rules, it’s worth repeating. Brainstorms depend on the participants to feel comfortable sharing their ideas. So, let them share them. There will be time to edit later.

Opportunity – You never know where a good idea will come from. It’s important to learn to capture, consider and explore any nugget that’s offered by a participant. Even if it’s just for a moment, give each idea an opportunity to grow into more.

Planning – Great brainstorms don’t just happen. They’re carefully planned. From who to invite to what brainstorm techniques you use, think through your brainstorm session beforehand. For a simple guide, check out our Brainstorm Tips.

Quiet Place To Think – When people say the word “brainstorm” everyone immediately thinks of a group and a bunch of crazy activities. But sometimes all you need is one person and a quiet place to think. If you find the group thing overwhelming, don’t be afraid to try this brainstorm method first.

Refreshments – Busy brains need energy. You don’t need to provide a massive spread of food, but it would be nice to offer them a little something. Even bowls of pretzels or bagels. This is especially important for meetings that last 90 minutes or longer.

Snapshots – It’s incredibly important to capture the output of every brainstorm. Unfortunately, over-sized notepads don’t keep particularly well. Get rid of them. Bring a camera (or use your phone) to take pictures of your notes. They’re easy to file, and you can keep them forever.

Time Management – You owe it to your brainstorm participants to keep to a schedule. Start on time. End on time. And keep things moving in between. Don’t rush the process, but an efficiently run brainstorm session will keep creativity and innovation flowing.

Understanding – Do your brains know why they’re here? It’s essential that everyone in your brainstorm session has an understanding of what their trying to accomplish and what their role is. Just take a few minutes at the beginning and bring everyone up to speed.

Variety of Methods – There’s no right way to brainstorm. Don’t be afraid to try different brainstorming techniques and pick the ones that work best for you. For simple how-to guides for a variety of brainstorm methods, visit our Brainstorm Blog.

Wastebasket – Not every idea is a winner. Eventually, there comes a time to separate the wheat from the chaff. This can be done by the group or by a smaller team. Be sure to evaluate the ideas against the original criteria and make unbiased choices.

X Marks The Spot – Know where you’re trying to go. A good plan is the most important thing to have in a brainstorm. A finish line is a close second. It gives your brainstorm session a purpose and makes it easier to select the right brainstorm technique.

Yes Man – Make sure each person you invite is capable of carrying their own weight. Floaters have no place in your brainstorm. They’ll only distract the people who are there to do the heavy lifting for you.

Zero Interruption – Nothing derails creativity and innovation like a ringing cell phone. You don’t need to go as far as banning them from your brainstorm session, but be sure to ask your participants to put them on vibrate before the meeting starts. Regular breaks will encourage them to comply.

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Brainstorm Technique #12: Inside The Box


Image used under Creative Commons license. Image linked to original work.

Brainstorm Technique: Alphabrainstorming

Outside the box is a vast and intimidating place. With so many possibilities and a blank piece of paper, it can be hard to know where to start. For consumers, it’s called the Paradox of Choice. It’s no different for brainstormers. At times like these, the best place to start is inside the box. Explore every corner and crevice of the box, and once the ideas start flowing then you can break down the walls and mentally frolic outside the box.

Ideal Activity For:
creativity exercises, problem solving, concept development

Brainstorm Tools:
2-3 easel pads
permanent markers
small to medium sized meeting space
list of limitations – written on individual pieces of paper

# of Participants:
1+
How To Brainstorm Inside The Box:
Pre-Brainstorm:

  1. Review the Brainstorm Bill of Rights
  2. Review the Brainstorm Prep Checklist and answer the appropriate questions
  3. Gather supplies and book a small to medium sized conference room
  4. Assemble a list of the limitations of the project (e.g. deadline, budget, manpower, etc. the more complete the list the better)

Brainstorm Intro: (approx. time varies by experience level)

  1. Review Brainstorm Bill of Rights with participants
  2. Establish the goal of the brainstorm by discussing the BrainBrief™
  3. Kick-off the meeting with an Icebreaker (if needed)

Brainstorm Part 1: (approx. 10-20 minutes)

  1. After quickly recapping the goal of the brainstorm session, randomly assign a limitation to each individual or group.
  2. Instruct your participants to think about how they would solve the problem if this limitation was the ONLY obstacle they faced. No other problems exist.
  3. Have teams write their ideas on easel pads labeled at the top with their limitation.
  4. If time allows (or for longer brainstorms), invite groups to select an additional obstacle when time expires.

Brainstorm Part 2: (approx. 10-20 minutes)

  1. Organize all the solutions the group has brainstormed by limitation and line the walls of your conference room or meeting space.
  2. Working as a large group, review the ideas and look for solutions that naturally compliment each other. You may also use the Forced Connections approach to combine solutions.
  3. Record linked ideas on an easel pad or mark with a shared symbol (star, plus sign, etc.) to indicate the relationship between the ideas.

Brainstorm Part 3: (approx. 20 minutes)

  1. Using the solutions selected in Round 2, challenge the group to further refine the ideas to satisfy additional limitations.
  2. Start with one of the selected solutions. Introduce limitations one at a time and identify changes that need to be made to overcome the new obstacle.
  3. Follow the same process for all selected concepts.

Post-Brainstorm:

  1. Thank all the participants for their input
  2. Select concepts for further development  (can be done alone or as part of the group)
  3. Be sure to capture all the notes and take them with you. It makes big ideas infinitely more portable and permanent.

 

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Please note: we talk personal infortmaion very seriously and would never sell or distribute your personal information.

5 things The Godfather trilogy taught me about brainstorming

A movie like The Godfather needs no introduction. The little film about Don Corleone and his merry band of mobsters has become one of the most celebrated movies of the last 100 years. (Of course, one recent poll showed it’s also the movie most people lie about having seen.) So between the shootouts, the double crosses and the fish wrapped in a bulletproof vest, what could The Godfather possibly have to do with brainstorming? Plenty.

Lesson #1 – Be prepared.
“Hey, listen, I want somebody good – and I mean very good – to plant that gun. I don’t want my brother coming out of that toilet with just his dick in his hands, alright?” ~ Santino “Sonny” Corleone

Just like Michael coming out of the bathroom, you may only get one shot at your brainstorm. Preparation is key, so don’t wing it. Take the time to put together a plan. Carefully choose the attendees. Identify one goal you want to achieve and establish a brainstorm plan that will get you there. Finally, brief the participants in advance and give them enough time to prepare. Still not sure how to prepare? No problem. Follow this simple checklist and you’ll be ready to roll.

Lesson #2 – Don’t say “No” to everything.
“No Sicilian can ever refuse a request on his daughter’s wedding day.” ~ Tom Hagen

For some people, this is the hardest part of a brainstorm. But in order for your brainstorm to succeed, you need to turn off your internal monitor. Do you think it was easy for Don Corleone to sit in his study at this daughter’s wedding and agree to every random request someone made? Of course not, but he did it. You can too… even for just one hour. If you can’t, you’re going to derail the entire process. It’s impossible to know where an idea might come from, so don’t stifle the creative process just as it gets going.
Lesson # 3 – Don’t talk when you should listen.
“I have a sentimental weakness for my children and I spoil them, as you can see. They talk when they should listen.” ~ Don Vito Corleone

Ask yourself one question, “Did I invite all these people here so they could listen to me and tell me how smart I am OR did I invite them here because they’re smart and I want to hear what they think?” Don’t dominate the meeting. If you followed Lesson #1, you spent time handpicking your brainstorm attendees, so let them participate. You might need to get the group started, but once they’re rolling back off a bit. Speak up with good ideas, builds or to redirect the group’s energy, but remember that this is a team exercise NOT a lecture.

Lesson #4 – Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
“There are many things my father taught me here in this room. He taught me: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” ~ Michael Corleone

As John P. Kotter says in his book Buy-In: Saving Your Good Idea from Getting Shot Down, it is natural to want to shield the creative process from our harshest critics. If we can prevent them from seeing the idea before it’s finished, we can keep them from killing it prematurely. Not so. By including our biggest critics in the brainstorm process, you can accomplish two things. First, you can identify and address their objection before it has a chance to gain any momentum*. Second, you can help them feel ownership of the idea they helped create. Once they have a vested interest in the idea, they may turn from a critic into a supporter.
*This tip is based upon an assumption that your critic can abide by Lesson #2. If they can’t silence their inner censor, then look for another way to satisfy their concerns.

Lesson #5 – It’s not personal, it’s business.
“It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.” ~ Michael Corleone

Finally, there will come a time when the brainstorm is over and you’re faced with a list of good ideas. Unfortunately, not every idea can move onto the next stage, so some difficult decisions have to be made. Each brainstorm participant will have their own list of favorites (possibly weighted to support their ideas). It might be easy to support ideas from your boss or other strong personalities in the room, but you need to make a business decision. Go back to the goals you outlined at the start of the meeting. Measure each idea against those goals and pick the ideas that meet or exceed those standards.

In conclusion, remember one thing and you’ll be fine, “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”

 

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Brainstorm Technique #11: AlphaBrainstorming

Brainstorm Technique: AlphaBrainstorming

When it comes to generating ideas, simplicity can sometimes be key. More effort spent focusing on the structure of the brainstorm means less energy focused on generating ideas. With AlphaBrainstorming, the brainstorm uses something ingrained into the mind to help drive the brainstorm session.

Ideal Activity For:
concept development, idea generation, problem solving, divergent thinking

Brainstorm Tools:
2-3 easel pads
permanent markers
small to medium sized meeting space
Stickers or stamps (3 per participant)

# of Participants:
1+

How To Brainstorm With AlphaBrainstorming:
Pre-Brainstorm:

  1. Review the Brainstorm Bill of Rights
  2. Review the Brainstorm Prep Checklist and answer the appropriate questions
  3. Gather supplies and book a small to medium sized conference room

Brainstorm Intro: (approx. time varies by experience level)

  1. Review Brainstorm Bill of Rights with participants
  2. Establish the goal of the brainstorm by discussing the BrainBrief™
  3. Kick-off the meeting with an Icebreaker (if needed)

Brainstorm Part 1: (approx. 10-30 minutes)

  1. After quickly recapping the goal of the brainstorm session, ask a member of the group to offer a solution to the goal that starts with the letter A. (Person could either be selected at random or an invitation could be issued to the whole group asking someone to shout out their answer)
  2. When a solution is volunteered, record the idea on a notepad. Once the idea is recorded, the person to the left of the speaker is now challenged to come up with a new solution that begins with the letter B.
  3. This process repeats until the group has generated a solution for each letter of the alphabet. (Please note: If the ideas are still flowing, and time permits, don’t hesitate to do two or even three rotations through the alphabet.

Brainstorm Part 2: (approx. 5-10 minutes)

  1. Ask each participant to come up to the notepads and review all the answers.
  2. Once they understand the available options, they must vote for their three favorite solutions from round 1.
  3. Narrow down the solutions to the top 3-5 vote-getting solutions.

Brainstorm Part 3: (approx. 20-40 minutes)

  1. Using the 3-5 solutions selected in Round 2, challenge the group the undertake a lightning round.
  2. Start with one of the selected solutions. Ask the group to quickly alphabrainstorm builds on the concept and record the builds on a notepad. (Note: Make sure to label your notepad pages, to make organizing notes easier.)
  3. Follow the same process for all selected concepts.

Post-Brainstorm:

  1. Thank all the participants for their input
  2. Select concepts for further development  (can be done alone or as part of the group)
  3. Be sure to capture all the notes and take them with you. It makes big ideas infinitely more portable and permanent.

 

Get the WEEKLY update about brainstorming and creative thinking from BrainBoltz.com.

Please note: we talk personal infortmaion very seriously and would never sell or distribute your personal information.

Brainstorm Technique #10: Sense From Nonsense

Brainstorm Technique: Sense From Nonsense

When it comes to problem-solving, generating a nonsense solution can be much easier than thinking of a good, workable solution. First, there’s no pressure involved in generating a solution you know is outlandish. Second, it gets the creative wheels turning and warmed up. Finally, it lightens the mood as brainstorm participants attempt to outdo each other. With Sense From Nonsense, you’ll be given full license to explore the absurd to find nuggets of wisdom that can help you achieve your brainstorm goal.

Ideal Activity For:
concept development, idea generation, theme development, blue sky thinking

Brainstorm Tools:
2-3 easel pads
permanent markers
small to medium sized meeting space

# of Participants:
4-10+

How To Brainstorm With Sense From Nonsense:
Pre-Brainstorm:

  1. Review the Brainstorm Bill of Rights
  2. Review the Brainstorm Prep Checklist and answer the appropriate questions
  3. Gather supplies and book a small to medium sized conference room

Brainstorm Intro: (approx. time varies by experience level)

  1. Review Brainstorm Bill of Rights with participants
  2. Establish the goal of the brainstorm by discussing the BrainBrief™
  3. Kick-off the meeting with an Icebreaker (if needed)

Brainstorm Part 1: (approx. 5-10 minutes)

  1. After quickly recapping the goal of the brainstorm session, give members to the group a few minutes to work independently to generate a nonsense solution to the opportunity at hand.
  2. If you’re working with an inexperienced group of brainstormers or creative thinkers, it may be best to develop a nonsense solution beforehand that you can read to the group. This will encourage them to push the boundaries and refrain from filtering themselves.
  3. When the group has one minute left, give them a time check and ask them to put any finishing touches on their idea.

Brainstorm Part 2: (approx. 5-15 minutes)

  1. Ask each participant to pass their paper in one direction (left, right or something unique)
  2. Give the new brainstorm participant the challenge of taking the nonsense idea and looking for a nugget of wisdom.
  3. Remind them, that they’re not responsible for developing the concept. They merely need to identify what it is.
  4. To ease the process of finding the nugget, invite participants to consider the exact opposite of the nonsense solution, change one key feature for the positive or exaggerate  some aspect of their nonsense solution in a positive manner.

Brainstorm Part 3: (approx. 20-40 minutes)

  1. Invite brainstorm participants to share their nugget with the larger group.
  2. Record ideas on an easel pad and invite everyone to build on and further explore them.
  3. Encourage conversation about each suggestion by asking probing questions.

Post-Brainstorm:

  1. Thank all the participants for their input
  2. Select concepts for further development  (can be done alone or as part of the group)
  3. Be sure to capture all the notes and take them with you. It’s often easiest to take digital photos for reference at a later date.

inspired by a suggestion from @cazazz

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Please note: we talk personal infortmaion very seriously and would never sell or distribute your personal information.

Brainstorm Technique #9 – SuperModding

Brainstorm Technique: SuperModding

A super modified race car looks very similar to a standard car, except one or two attributes are exaggerated. Whether it’s a big, shiny engine or an enormous wing on the top of the car, it’s hard to miss. With supermodding, you apply the same basic process to the subject of your brainstorm session.

Ideal Activity For:
concept development, exploration of existing concepts, idea generation, product differentiation, line extension

Brainstorm Tools:
2-3 easel pads
permanent markers
small to medium sized meeting space

# of Participants:
4-10+

How To Brainstorm With SuperModding:
Pre-Brainstorm:

  1. Review the Brainstorm Bill of Rights
  2. Review the Brainstorm Prep Checklist and answer the appropriate questions
  3. Gather supplies and book a small to medium sized conference room

Brainstorm Intro: (approx. time varies by experience level)

  1. Review Brainstorm Bill of Rights with participants
  2. Establish the goal of the brainstorm by discussing the BrainBrief™
  3. Kick-off the meeting with an Icebreaker (if needed)

Brainstorm Part 1: (approx. 7-10 minutes)

  1. Begin with a quick brain dump of attributes of the subject of the brainstorm session
  2. Invite participants to shout out any attribute they can think of whether it’s a physical, emotional or other type of attribute
  3. Record all the suggested attributes on an easel pad

Brainstorm Part 2: (approx. 8-15 minutes)

  1. Break the brainstorm session into small groups of two members
  2. Quickly review the suggested attributes and assign one attribute to each group in the brainstorm.
  3. Encourage them to spend the next few minutes discussing what the idea would be like if their assigned attribute was pushed to one extreme or the other. For example, if our product was dog food and our attribute was “portion size”, what would a dog food that offered more food than your dog could possibly eat be like? How would it be packaged? What would the ads say?
  4. Make sure that each group has assigned one person to capture their thinking on paper.

Brainstorm Part 3: (approx. 15-20 minutes)

  1. Reassemble as a large group and invite each brainstorm team to share their favorite 2-3 ideas with the group.
  2. Once each group has finished sharing their ideas, invite other teams to build and develop ideas.
  3. Select favorite ideas and discuss how they can be refined to fit the subject of the brainstorm session as it currently exists or discuss what simple modifications can be made to the product to bring it more closely in line with the idea.

Brainstorm Part 4-5: (approx. 30-45 minutes)

  1. As time permits, revisit Parts 1-3 to develop more attributes.
  2. After each round, consider reorganizing teams to provide fresh thinking for each round.
  3. Once new teams have been formed, assign a new attribute to each group.

Post-Brainstorm:

  1. Thank all the participants for their input
  2. Select concepts for further development  (can be done alone or as part of the group)
  3. Be sure to capture all the notes and take them with you. It’s often easiest to take digital photos of the sticky note groupings for reference at a later date.

 

Get the WEEKLY update about brainstorming and creative thinking from BrainBoltz.com.

Please note: we talk personal infortmaion very seriously and would never sell or distribute your personal information.

Brainstorm Technique #8 – 0-60

Brainstorm Technique: 0-60
Just like the name suggests, this brainstorm technique is all about speed. The point is to find 60 different solutions to the main question of your brainstorm session. Don’t worry about filtering your thoughts. As fast as the ideas are generated,  they should be recorded. Remember, speed is the key.

Ideal Activity For:
idea generation, headline exploratory, plot exploratory, product naming,

Brainstorm Tools:
For an individual: laptop or paper & pen

For groups:
1-2 easel pads or 4” x 6” sticky notes
permanent markers
tape or thumbtacks
small stickers

# of Participants:
1 – 6*

*Since this exercise depends on speed and accuracy in capturing the groups suggestions, it’s important to limit to size of the group so that all the ideas generated are captured. For groups larger than 6, consider breaking into multiple smaller groups.

How To Brainstorm With 0-60:
Pre-Brainstorm:

  1. Review the Brainstorm Bill of Rights.
  2. Review the Brainstorm Prep Checklist and answer the appropriate questions.
  3. Gather supplies and book a small to medium-sized conference room.
  4. If you choose, you can draw 60 numbered blanks on your easel pages for your brainstorm participants to fill in with their ideas.

Brainstorm Intro: (approx. time varies by experience level)

  1. Review Brainstorm Bill of Rights with participants.
  2. Establish the goal of the brainstorm by discussing the BrainBrief™.
  3. Kick-off the meeting with an Icebreaker (if needed).

Brainstorm Part 1: (approx. 5-20 minutes)

  1. Once the brainstorm group understands the key question that’s driving the brainstorm session, invite them to begin filling out the list of 60 solutions. [NOTE: The number 60 is used for illustrative purposes only, for your brainstorm you may choose any number of solutions you wish. Just adjust the time limit accordingly.]
  2. Not every idea thrown out will directly answer the question that’s driving the brainstorm. However, it’s important to capture every solution offered. So, on one easel pad create a “waiting area” where partially formed ideas can be stored without filling in one of your 60 spaces. Occasionally remind brainstorm participants of interesting nuggets stored in this area, and encourage them to further develop these ideas.
  3. Once the brainstorm group has reached its idea quota, step back from the easel pads and let the blood flow return to your writing hand.

Brainstorm Part 2: (approx. 5-10 minutes)

  1. Spread the easel pad sheets around the room using tape or thumbtacks to attached them to the wall.
  2. Invite members of the brainstorm group to circulate around the room and briefly review all the ideas captured during the brainstorm session.
  3. Give each member of the group 1 vote per 10 ideas generated and invite them to vote for their favorite ideas by placing a sticker next to the ideas they like most.
  4. Capture the most popular ideas on a new easel pad.

Brainstorm Part 3: (approx. 20-45 minutes)

  1. Spend this session further developing the most popular brainstorm ideas.
  2. Record each idea on its own sheet of paper and invite brainstorm participants to call out their builds.
  3. If the brainstorm group begins to lose momentum, ask questions to lead the group’s effort, such as:
  • If we could change one thing about this idea to make it more complete, what would it be?
  • This idea is a good start, how can we build on it to get us closer to our goal?
  • What could we do with this idea that would make it uniquely ownable to your brand/company/group?

Post-Brainstorm:

  1. Thank all the participants for their input.
  2. Select concepts for further development  (can be done alone or as part of the group).
  3. Be sure to capture all the notes and take them with you. It’s often easiest to take digital photos of the easel pads for reference at a later date.

Get the WEEKLY update about brainstorming and creative thinking from BrainBoltz.com.


 

Please note: we talk personal infortmaion very seriously and would never sell or distribute your personal information.

Brainstorm Technique #7 – Creative Curve Ball

Brainstorm Technique: Creative Curve Ball
If you’ve ever watched baseball, you know nothing throws a hitter off more than when they’re looking for one pitch and you get another. This technique brings that concept to your brainstorm session by introducing random stimuli to your creative process. The idea is to use the random stimuli to encourage thinking in new and unexpected directions.

Ideal Brainstorm Activity For:
idea generation, concept development, exploration of existing concepts

Brainstorm Tools:
2-3 easel pads
permanent markers
small to medium-sized meeting space (depending on the number of participants)
creative curve balls (random items of inspiration)
container (to hold creative curve balls)
# of Participants:
4 – 15+

How To Brainstorm With Creative Curve Ball:
Pre-Brainstorm:

  1. Review the Brainstorm Bill of Rights.
  2. Review the Brainstorm Prep Checklist and answer the appropriate questions.
  3. Assemble a selection of random stimuli to serve as creative curve balls. This could be anything ranging from pages randomly torn out of magazines to things you borrowed from your co-workers’ desks. Make sure you have enough stimuli for each person in the meeting to grab at least 2 things.
  4. Gather supplies and book a small to medium-sized conference room.

Brainstorm Intro: (approx. time varies by experience level)

  1. Review Brainstorm Bill of Rights with participants
  2. Establish the goal of the brainstorm by discussing the BrainBrief™
  3. Kick-off the meeting with an Icebreaker (if needed)

Brainstorm Part 1: (approx. 20-30 minutes)

  1. Begin by dividing your brainstorm group into smaller teams of 2-3 and reminding the groups of the goal you are trying to achieve in the meeting.
  2. Allow each group member to pull a creative curve ball and instruct the groups to utilize their collective curve balls to develop unique solutions to the goal of the meeting.
  3. Give the groups time to work together to use their creative curve ball to develop a unique solution to the goal you established.

Brainstorm Part 2: (approx. 20-30 minutes)

  1. Have teams select their best concepts to present back to the larger group.
  2. Invite members of the larger group to build and develop the ideas presented with any ideas they may have.
  3. Record the ideas shared and any builds on an easel pad for the group to review.

Brainstorm Part 3: (approx. 5-15 minutes)

  1. Review the remaining, unselected stimuli with the larger group. Invite them to share any ideas or thought starters with the group.
  2. Record any ideas on an easel pad for further discussion and review.

Post-Brainstorm:

  1. Thank all the participants for their input
  2. Select concepts for further development  (can be done alone or as part of the group)
  3. Be sure to capture all the notes and take them with you. It’s often easiest to take digital photos of the easel pads for reference at a later date.

 

Get the WEEKLY update about brainstorming and creative thinking from BrainBoltz.com.


 

Please note: we talk personal infortmaion very seriously and would never sell or distribute your personal information.

7 People To Avoid Inviting To Your Brainstorm

 

When it comes to planning and executing a brainstorming session, there can be little debate that a clearly defined purpose is the most important factor in the success or failure of the meeting. The next most important thing to consider is “Who are you going to invite?” Constructing a good brainstorm group can be tricky. It isn’t good enough to grab the first few people who walk by your office, ply them with bagels and coffee and demand creative thinking. Ideally, your brainstorm group would represent a broad cross-section of backgrounds and experience levels. However, that isn’t always an available option. At a minimum, anyone you choose to participate in your brainstorm session needs three key things. First, they should have a vested interest in the success of your brainstorm topic. Second, they should be willing to speak up. Finally, they should be able to meet the expectations established in the Brainstorm Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, not everyone is up to the task. So, here are seven characters you’ll want to avoid.

Name: Major Bazooka
Bio: The Major has never met an idea he liked. Whatever it is, he can find a flaw, whether real or imagined. He’ll ramble on about how various ideas will never work, without ever offering a suggestion that might resolve the “problem” he’s found. In fact, he’s so busy shooting holes in other people’s ideas that he can’t even find time to offer up an idea of his own.

Name: Ma Bell
Bio: Nobody is more popular than Ma Bell. In fact, she’s so popular that she can’t even put her phone down to brainstorm solutions for your meeting. Between the text messages, phone calls and tweets, she might throw out a kernel here and there, but don’t depend on her for many big ideas.

Name: Mr. In Love With His Own Ideas
Bio: This guy never had an idea he didn’t like. He likes his ideas so much that he’ll keep bringing them up whether they’re on-strategy or not. If you let him, he’ll dominate the brainstorm session. Through sheer commitment to his ideas, he will eventually sway the group to believe that the solution he thought of in the first 5 minutes of the brainstorm is the one and only solution.

Name: The Big Boss
Bio: All bosses aren’t bad brainstorm participants, but The Big Boss isn’t your ordinary boss. First, this isn’t his first rodeo. He’s seen it all and done it all, and now he wants to tell you about it. Second, HE’S THE BOSS, and he deserves some respect. So, you better listen to his ideas above all others and make sure you write them down. Did he mention, he’s the boss?

Name: Sir Didn’t Read The Brief
Bio: A brainstorm wouldn’t be a brainstorm without a few wild ideas, but Sir Didn’t Read The Brief takes things one step too far. It isn’t that his ideas are too wacky, but they just aren’t on strategy. Instead of doing a little prep work, he decided to shoot from the hip. He’ll hit something, but it may not be anything you can use.

Name: Mr. I’m Just Here For The Food
Bio: At times the easiest to identify, Mr. I’m Just Here For The Food will usually send a menu-related email the day before the meeting. Even before the brainstorm starts, it’s clear that he has one thing on his mind, and it isn’t the topic of your brainstorm. He’ll hang around and throw out some ideas, but as soon as the food is gone so is he.

Name: Captain Idea Recycler
Bio: At one point in time, Captain Idea Recycler was probably a heavy hitter in any brainstorm he attended. However, at some point in time, he got off track. Whether he lost his edge or just got lazy, the Captain can be counted on for one thing – he brings the same few ideas to every meeting. He typically starts his pitch with a familiar saying, “Back when I was working on [INSERT BIG NAME CLIENT HERE], we had this really successful program that…”

Name: Madame Frostbite
Bio: If you held your brainstorm on a blacktop parking lot on the hottest day of the year on the equator, Madame Frostbite would still be chilly. As soon as the brainstorm starts, she’ll ask if anyone else is cold. Without even waiting for an answer, she’ll begin to adjust the thermostat until she finds the room comfortable. The only problem – everyone else can’t think because they’re too busy sweating. Of all the people on this list, you probably shouldn’t automatically exclude Madame Frostbite. She may have unsurpassed enthusiasm and stellar ideas. If that’s the case, invite her. Just make sure she brings a sweater.

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Brainstorm Technique #6 – Brainstorm Go Round

Brainstorm Technique: Brainstorm Go Round

Ideas are often hard to explore in a large group setting because it’s so easy for one voice to get lost in the crowd. The quickest and most efficient way to further develop a concept in a group is with the brainstorm technique known as Brainstorm Go Round. In this method, you begin the brainstorm with two or more kernels of thought. Groups are challenged to brainstorm against each of these thought starters in successive order.

Ideal Activity For:
concept development, exploration of existing concepts

Brainstorm Tools:
1 easel pad for each idea kernel
permanent markers for each easel pad
medium to large sized meeting space

# of Participants:
8 – 15+

How To Brainstorm With Brainstorm Go Round:
Pre-Brainstorm:

  1. Review the Brainstorm Bill of Rights
  2. Review the Brainstorm Prep Checklist and answer the appropriate questions
  3. Develop the idea kernels in an individual or small group brainstorm. An exercise such as mind mapping would be ideal for this portion of the pre-brainstorm
  4. Gather supplies and book a medium to large sized conference room.
  5. Prior to the beginning of the brainstorm session, create individual ideation areas for each idea kernel. Ideation areas should be spread apart as much as possible, and each area should feature its own easel pad, markers and seating.

Brainstorm Intro: (approx. time varies by experience level)

  1. Review Brainstorm Bill of Rights with participants
  2. Establish the goal of the brainstorm by discussing the BrainBrief™
  3. Kick-off the meeting with an Icebreaker (if needed)

Brainstorm Part 1: (approx. 30-45 minutes)

  1. Begin by dividing your brainstorm group into smaller teams. To maximize the output, teams should equal the number of idea kernels you’re planning to develop and should be no smaller than 3 members.
  2. Give each group the idea kernel they will start the brainstorm session with and send them to one of the ideation areas.
  3. Ask all the teams to begin brainstorming ideas related to their kernel for 10-15 minutes.
  4. When the time expires, ask the teams to leave their ideation area exactly as it currently is and move one station to their right. In the new ideation area, each group will briefly review the previous group’s notes and begin brainstorming against the same topic. [Please Note: Each group has the option to build on existing ideas or generate unique ideas of their own.]
  5. In 10-15 minutes have the groups move one station to the right again. This process will continue until each group has visited each ideation area.

Brainstorm Part 2: (approx. 10-15 minutes)

  1. For part 2, have each group move back to their original ideation area and review the work of all the groups.
  2. After reviewing the collective work, invite the groups to select their favorite concepts to share with the larger group.

Brainstorm Part 3: (approx. 10-15 minutes)

  1. As the groups present the selected ideas to the larger group, invite participants to build and develop the shared concepts.
  2. Capture the shared ideas and any builds on an easel pad for future reference.

Post-Brainstorm:

  1. Thank all the participants for their input
  2. Select concepts for further development  (can be done alone or as part of the group)
  3. Be sure to capture all the notes and take them with you. It’s often easiest to take digital photos of the easel pads for reference at a later date.

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