Everyone involved or with an interest in the outcome can participate.
Brainstorming is a right brain activity. It allows for free flowing ideas.
Strategising is a left brain activity. In a brainstorming forum, strategising forces everyone to critically appraise the idea in question and suspends the flow of creativity.
Therefore these are the rules: no negatives, all ideas are good ideas.
If you are involving other people, then here are some guidelines to help you get the best out of the session.
1. Write a succinct outline which states the Situation, Purpose, Outcomes/ Outputs, Resources and Timeline (SPORT) for the brainstorm
2. Distribute it at least two to three days before hand so that those participating have time to do some thinking and/or research
3. Ensure the day before that everyone is aware they must be in place at a designated time. There is nothing more debilitating to a creative session than people being late, or getting coffee and water while everyone is waiting.
4. Have coffee, tea and water available on the table
5. Use the first five to 10 minutes to ensure that everyone is clear as to the purpose and outcomes of the brainstorm
6. Explain clearly that a think-tank is not a strategy session, it is an ideas generator
7. Nominate a scribe ( someone who will write the ideas on a whiteboard or butcher paper)
8. Set a time limit (say 30-40 minutes maximum)
9. Start by going around the table. If anyone is short of an idea they can pass. Once the ideas start to flow, people will soon join in
10. Have the scribe key in the ideas for distribution the following day
11. Ensure the contributors understand: ALL IDEAS ARE GOOD IDEAS, NO NEGATIVES.
Right brain – creative thinking, left brain, strategising.
It becomes very obvious why this rule is critical to the success of a creative session, when it is not respected. If people feel they can come forward with their ideas no matter how outlandish, invariably the session will deliver some visionary ways to achieve your idea or goals.
As soon as a participating person is allowed to strategise, ie no, I don’t think that will work because…, or how do you think you’d be able to do that? the energy in the room changes instantly.
People have to change from their right brain (creative thinking) into their left brain (analytical thinking) to process this thought. The creative thread which will have been criss crossing the room, almost like an electric current, feeding each new idea, is switched off.
It is a waste using energy which should have been directed at the creative thinking to work out how to switch the current back on again.
This is harder than it sounds, but a well-facilitated session is an energising experience which exposes everyone to the power of collaborative thought. The kernel of your communications solution is likely to be found on the whiteboard at the end.