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How to squeeze the most out of a brainstorming session

Have you ever come out of a brainstorming session feeling more lost than before? Maybe you have had a team meeting that felt like a waste of time? Did it feel repetitive or too off topic? Did not enough people participate? Were some people not showing any interest?

Well what can I tell you? It happens – trust me, it happens.

Brainstorming is great for improving critical thinking and problem solving. At Agent99, we hold brainstorms at least once per day. Often, when team members are bouncing ideas off one another, they find it improves the team’s ability to think “outside the box” and see different perspectives.

You may ask, how do you keep these brainstorming sessions from being unproductive? Here are three tips to consider for your next brainstorming session:

  1. Be organised

Before calling the brainstorming session, make sure to go in organised. Know the goals of the meeting and prep the group with notes regarding the intent of the session. By presenting these, you are giving the group direction and the information they need to be successful.

Be sure to appoint a leader or moderator to help the session flow and stay on track and guide the group through the meeting.  Allow this person to be the time keeper to make sure the session does not exceed the set time limit. Brainstorming should always have a time limit – keeping these sessions too long can lead to frustrations if goals are not met. You can always call a second session if needed.

  1. Write EVERYTHING down

Designate a note taker to record everything being discussed. Sometimes with several ideas bouncing around, we can lose track of what was said to begin with. After the meeting, these notes can be a useful tool for additional feedback or future discussions and ideas. From here, you can ‘connect the dots’ and link up ideas that were brought up during the brainstorm. Unusual suggestions may appear to lack value at first, but sometimes a ‘bad idea’ at first glance may just be the answer in the future.

  1. Mix it up

This may sound cliché, but why not try making the brainstorm session fun and engaging? Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Take it outside of the office – a change of location can trigger visual thinking and can take the edge off the pressure of the meeting room
  • Role play – Ask the group to express ideas from different perspectives. Put yourselves in someone else’s shoes. For example; “What would a teenager think about this?” or “How would your mum view this?”
  • Add in some arts and crafts – Try and nix the words and bring out the art supplies. Get the team to draw and shape out their ideas and see what visuals can evolve from it.
  1. Get everyone involved

In a single workplace there is such a wide and diverse range of people with different personalities and visualisations. Putting together a brainstorming session is all about getting a range of perspectives and looking at ideas and concepts from different angles. A major part of squeezing the most out of a brainstorm session is getting a number of people involved. Discussions between two people can often lead to repetitiveness and become a waste of time. Think of techniques to get the whole team involved, from mind maps to playing games – brainstorms go a long way when everyone is involved.

Intern Agent Denise

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