A brainstorming session is a great tool when you need to get new perspectives and solutions to a particular problem. But beware! What starts as a relaxed conversation on an issue can lead to a list of useless or impractical ideas or even worse - tension among the attendees if there’s any criticism of the proposed solutions.

This valuable tool for group work was invented by a publicist, Alex Faickney Osborn. When observing the atmosphere of his office, he noticed that a group of people generated more and better ideas as a team than when they worked individually. In order to produce this creative group magic, the environment most certainly needs to be relaxed. You must set some objectives in advance and avoid any type of criticism during the first part of the process.

So if you're developing a brainstorming session, you must take the following golden rules into account for the meeting to be effective:

1. Find a stimulating space in which participants feel comfortable and can move freely. If the session will be long, offer drinks and something to eat to keep energy levels up, as the NH Hotel Group Tempting Breaks.

2. Introduce participants (the more varied, the better), the length of the meeting and the topic for discussion.

3. Clearly define the goal you want to achieve. The facilitator explains the background or situation and the direction they would like to go. If the goals are not well-defined or haven’t been explained correctly, it’s possible that the ideas that come out of the session don’t help solve the problem. Therefore, it’s helpful to present the objective as a creative challenge: "How could we ...?" 

4. Start generating ideas. The idea is to find all possible points of view, therefore there are no limits or restrictions on the proposals. The moderator notes all ideas generated by participants on a whiteboard or wall that is visible to everyone. Also, the way in which the ideas are recorded can be stimulating and create increased interaction. This is why NH Hotel Group offer the SMART Room System™ for Skype for business, a tool for visual collaboration and thinking.

In this phase the golden rule is to NOT CRITICIZE any idea, no matter how impossible or far-fetched it appears. It doesn’t matter how unrelated to the primary objective an idea seems, sometimes one idea stimulates another one that’s even better. And without a critical atmosphere, creativity can flourish.

5. Idea selection. Once the time is up, it’s time to choose the best ideas. It can be done by voting or by having each participant choose their 2-3 favorite ideas with stickers ... The most popular idea will be redefined in order to adapt it to the objective.

Throughout this process, the role of moderator or facilitator is critical. His or her main tasks are:

Create a relaxed atmosphere as it will encourage participation and creativity. To do this, you can do relaxation exercises or play some games to develop trust among the participants.

  • Ensure that the rules are respected.
  • Keep the group from getting sidetracked.
  • Encourage everyone’s participation, keeping the more vocal personalities from dominating the session.
  • Stimulate the flow of ideas and help to give them shape.
  • Be neutral.

The basic idea of ​​brainstorming is simple: gather a group of people to generate every possible idea for solving a problem. With a good moderator who can keep participants focused on the objective and enforce the rules of the process, brainstorming is a great tool to use in your team meetings.  It will help you come up with the best solutions.

More Articles