How does an ideal brainstorming session work?

A team method for realizing fresh ideas, solving issues and having teams motivated and developed, brainstorming is indeed a powerful concept. By involving team members in serious management as well as organizational problems, brainstorming prompts collaboration. In more simpler words, it prompts the smooth progression of a team by furthering members’ mutual cooperation.

Brainstorming is a utility champion

Generally, brainstorming can be helpful in the creation of a cross-fertilisation of concepts, at a point that calls for fresh concepts or ideas, besides a need for generating a hefty list of possibilities. It also proves to be effective for teams striving to figure out particularly inflexible issues where solutions can hardly be deduced logically, and a complete assessment is required.

Brainstorming can also be found appropriate in situations where information on a problem comes distributed across different individuals, and it requires their gathering to one place. Then it is also a team-building technique. This is very much due to its scope of generating creative synergy when a highly fruitful connection or bond is created among the members of the team.

Not at all a random activity, brainstorming requires to be structured as following certain key rules. Here it defines an issue or challenge in neutral terms. Then the participants share ideas spontaneously to solve it, which are offered further under conditions that are specific. Father of the Brainstorming sessions, Osborn has set forth for a session, a few guidelines. They are

Postponing criticism

Flexible generation of ideas can be seriously interfered by criticism or harsh evaluation. Postponing the ideas’ criticism or judgment generated in one particular brainstorming session furthers a creative condition where fresh concepts come reinforced rather than getting punished in.

Mass generation of ideas

Creative ideas or concepts happen infrequently. The idea underlying this process is the generation of more and more concepts. Greater the creation of concepts means one of those probably can be creative as well as appropriate. Typically, concepts that evolve out of brainstorming sessions are found to be more imaginative. Then directly proportional are the number of concepts to the chances of coming up with a better concept leading to an ideal solution.

Building ideas mutually

To extend the idealist further, participants of a brainstorming session are encouraged to enrich, embellish and develop generated ideas, hitchhiking on others’ ideas spontaneously.

Welcome are wild and exaggerated concepts

More likely are the participants to obtain a creative as well as the workable concept by being initially wild and then taming it down in the process. This should be carried out detached from criticism, evaluation and edition of ideas along the process. All ideas are welcome in a typical session of brainstorming. The wilder the concepts, the better they could be. Nonetheless, the majority are not used to pressing for wild concepts. A brainstorming session’s facilitator or leader can assist the members by giving a model on the generation of wild ideas. The person can also provide certain warm-up activities to have the team loosen up at the beginning. At the point where all concepts are generated, participants are advised to press for the next round of concept generation, letting themselves in the process to be even more exorbitant.

How to make use of brainstorming in solving issues?

Once the ground rules are clear for the participants, a typical brainstorming session bearing the following steps begins

Step 1: A group with a participant strength ranging between four and fifteen can be a reasonable brainstorming group. But restrict to five to seven members to optimize the brainstorming group.

Step 2: A coordinator and facilitator of the session must be identified before the session. This individual guides and monitors the brainstorming process. He ensures the following of all the ground rules.

Step 3: A method needs to be selected for recording generated ideas. Flipcharts, black or whiteboards, paper pads, overhead projector transparencies and sticky notes can be used to record the concepts. In the case of electronic brainstorming, the ideas generated can be stored in a computer functioning as the memory bank.

Step 4: Participants that have a particular interest in problem-solving can be selected as participants. Specialised knowledge required to address issues would be an advantage.

Step 5: An appropriate venue needs to be finalized for the session. Other necessary resources need to be gathered.

Step 6: The facilitator will review the ground rules of the brainstorming session beside its purpose and topic, to commence the session.

Step 7: Four distinct stages of the brainstorming session, through which the facilitators generally lead the participants through are given below

  • Stating the Issue: The issue is stated by the facilitator in neutral terms, to help the participants start the brainstorming session with the least number of preconceived biases regarding the problem.
  • Restating the Issue: The facilitator prompts the participants to restate the problems in different words. This helps the members to come across different perspectives on the issue. Then one or more of the total restatements are chosen by the team to brainstorm on.
  • Brainstorming Process: The facilitator invites a free flow of concepts around the key issue. This may be followed by hours of intense generation of ideas. Then comes the sluggish and awkward period marked by no generation of the idea at all. During this recess, the group is adviced to return to the concepts that have been already generated to construct on them. When sufficient concepts are generated, a break taken will refresh the team before marching ahead to the evaluation stage.
  • Evaluating generated concepts: Critical evaluation and judgment are carried out on the final list of ideas. Weeding out of least competent ideas until most likely problem-solving concepts are selected, can be carried out through an elimination process.