Brainstorming in a group can be extremely effective. Different thoughts and perspectives coming together to create bulletproof ideas that lead to strong campaigns. But if mismanaged, it can be a waste of time. Here are a couple pointers on how to make the most out of your session.
Addressing External vs. Internal Thinkers
As we know, everyone has a slightly different work style. Some people like to chat out loud about their ideas and talk them through. Others prefer to go off on their own to think solo for bit. Preparation for a group brainstorm is extremely important for each participant. External thinkers can meet in a smaller group session, and the internal thinkers should make time to think by themselves. Bringing initial thoughts helps to kick the meeting off right and allows both types of thinkers to contribute.
Who’s in Charge Here?
It’s easy for brainstorms to get off topic or become ruled by one or two of the loudest voices of the bunch. However, that’s not innately bad. It can be good to go off on a tangent once in a while, and listening to everyone’s opinion is important. Designate a meeting leader to guide the conversation, rally the group when conversation dulls, and keep track of time. Choose someone who has a naturally strong command of the group dynamic; it doesn’t always have to be the Creative Director or Account Executive.
Take it Out of the Office – Within Reason
A fresh environment can lead to fresh ideas. Conversely, a distracting, new environment can lead to distracted ideas. Choose your offsite location with care. Think about the timing as well. Is there no way around scheduling a meeting at 8:00am on a Monday or 4:30pm on a Friday? Try escaping to a coffee shop or low-key pub that offers ample room and an atmosphere conducive to work.
What Did We Talk About?
Make a point to verbally designate a note taker before the start of the meeting. It seems simple, but if forgotten, can leave the best ideas on the floor or distract participants from generating ideas.
Keep an Open Mind
Brainstorms must be judgment-free zones. Let everyone voice their ideas and keep the flow going – for the good, the bad and the ugly. Naysayers, bite your tongues. The designated note taker should write down all ideas for evaluation at a later time. Wait an hour or even a full day before judging ideas. When whittling down ideas to move forward with, be sure to include the group in that process to allow anyone who wants to make a case for keeping an idea in the running. You never know when a small tweak turns a good idea and a great one.
Pick the right leader, place, time, be flexible with individual work styles, and you’re bound to have a productive brainstorm.