We’ve all been part of a brainstorming session at least once. Some of them were incredibly productive and led to some amazing ideas, whereas others may be categorized as a waste of not only time but also energy.
So, what’s the catch? How can you have a better brainstorming session with your colleagues? What happens if your colleagues work from home? How does an online session look like?
We don’t own the ultimate secret to succeeding in organizing a brainstorming session, but at least we can help you with some useful tips for before, during and after it.
A good brainstorming session starts a few days before the meeting. So here are a few aspects to consider at this stage:
Name the issue/problem
A brainstorming session is supposed to address an issue, a question, or a problem. Maybe you have a user journey you need to improve or maybe you want to find some new marketing ways to promote your amazing offers. Whatever the subject is, make sure you define it before you set the event in your calendar.
Decide who needs to participate
You work in an amazing team, sure. But maybe not every member of your team has the necessary skills or knowledge to participate in your brainstorming session. Make sure you only invite the ones you believe can help you find the right solution. The ideal number of participants is between 3 and 7. If they’re less than 3, it’ll be difficult to establish a proper brainstorm flow. If they’re more than 7, everyone will want to speak their mind and the session will take too much time.
Decide upon a brainstorming technique
A successful brainstorming session needs an effective technique. And while there are many available out there, you need to choose the right one. Some criteria to consider are the number of participants, the goal you want to achieve, the type of issue/problem you want to tackle during the session and so on.
Since you’re the organizer, make sure you choose the right online tools to help you during the session and that every participant has access to them. If necessary, announce your team that they’ll have to create accounts to use those tools.
Now that you’re all set and ready to start the session, here are some useful organizing tips to take into account during your online brainstorming session:
Quantity is better than quality
At least at this stage. Brainstorming sessions are not about coming up with the best ideas to solve the problem from the first take, but rather coming up with as many of them as possible. Encourage your team to bring ideas to the table and not to get stuck in the process of solving the problem, as this can be discussed in another meeting.
There’s no such thing as a bad idea
You’re encouraging quantity, which means that not all ideas are going to be good, easy to implement or even realistic. But this is actually what makes a brainstorming session successful! Avoid judging an idea based on whether or not it is easy to implement. Instead, go for encouraging your team to share every idea they have and build a better one from there.
Combine ideas to build the right one
Alex Osborn is the Father of Brainstorming. In the 1940s, he was unhappy with the way his employees developed ideas for ad campaigns. He started working on techniques for creative problem-solving to encourage his employees to come up with more creative ideas.
“It’s easier to tone down a wild idea than to think up a new one”, he said.
Thus, let your team share any idea they can think of, whether realistic or not and then combine some of them to have the winning one.
The greatest brainstorming session is over and you were the organizer. Doesn’t that give you a good feeling? We bet it does.
But your work is not done yet. There are still some aspects to tackle after the session and here are some organizing tips for this stage:
Take a break
You deserve it. You’ve worked on this brainstorming session for the past couple of days, you’ve been an amazing facilitator and now that it’s over, you need a moment for yourself. And you also need to distance a bit from everything that has been discussed during the session. When you come back, you’ll approach the subject objectively. One or two hours should be enough, but don’t take a break longer than a day. You need to keep that information fresh.
Streamline the information
Most of the times, brainstorming sessions generate not only a lot of ideas but also some doodles and even some miscellaneous notes. Now’s the time to refine everything and synthesize the information before you share it with the other participants.
Consider your brainstorm criteria when prioritizing ideas
You set a goal before your brainstorming session. You held it because you wanted your team to come up with an idea or a solution that could solve a problem. Consider those established criteria and evaluate all the ideas that came out of this brainstorm. If it’s easier for you, create a checklist for each idea and see which one best matches your criteria.
The final touch
You’re almost done. Just some bullet points here, some highlighted text there and now you have the final version of your notes. Review them once more and then send them to your team.
Having a brainstorming session may seem complicated, but if you follow some simple organizing tips, you’ll notice how everything gets a lot easier.
The same happens when using OneDock. You’ve struggled for a long period with a cluttered desktop and three or four communication tools all opened at once. Now’s the time to bring some order to that chaos.
OneDock is the friend you need that helps you organize almost everything on your computer. Try it today.
Lavinia Nica - Copywriter / UX writer at Telekom Romania