Brainstorming is a technique that helps a group of people achieve creative ideas. But for the session to be fully productive, it is necessary to follow some rules.
The first thing to do is to have a perfectly defined question. The aim of the session should be expressed clearly and concisely. This can be the slogan of a campaign, the strategy for a commercial action or the launch of a new product / service.
Once this has been done, a period of time is established … creativity is started and the brainstorming begins.
It is important that one of the team members is in charge of taking notes. They must taken literally , without filtering the ones considered most interesting and without introducing nuances.
The rules that must be followed are:
> Freedom (everything counts). The most obvious, the useless, the improbable, the most absurd … everything.
> Do not make judgments, not even on the ideas exposed by oneself. Phrases like “what I’m about to say is nonsense, but I’m telling you anyway” should be avoided; others like “Wow, that’s impossible”, even more.
> Brief and concise, without explanations … When a person has thought an idea, he has it clear in his mind, but if he explains it briefly, he can allow someone else to interpret it in another way and turn it towards a meaning different that is from the original idea. For example, one person says “green leaves” thinking of a forest, but another person has visualized a notebook with green sheets … and thus we have opened the mental field towards a completely different line.
> Pass the relay. Any idea, obvious, useless, improbable or absurd that it may seem can lead us to another, that is also obvious or useless but it might leads us to another and to another, and following this process, is when the really reach original ideas.
> Non stop. Intuition and improvisation are important values in a brainstorming, however, reason should be left out of the meeting room. By proposing ideas continuously, without giving them too much time to assess them, reason is kept “under control”.
Trick: If you stay “blank”, remember the rule of passing the relay, take an idea that has been put on the table and transform it: look for its opposite, its parallel, make it big or small, change it from the stage, gender, age, color …
> Quantity matters. At the beginning, due to laziness, shame or lack of faith in the method, the most obvious ideas will appear. It is rare that a great idea appears in the first 10 minutes of the session, but, like the warm-up before a race, it is essential. The more contributions appear, the more possibilities are open to associate concepts that we would not rationally associate, and this is a basic component to reach creative solutions.
Open the door to reason
At the end of the proposed time (difficult to determine, it depends on the team, their experience, etc. but it should never be more than 60′), it is time to open the door to reason: the ideas are reviewed, the obvious ones are discarded , usually 2 or 3 different lines are visualized, evaluated, and chosen. At this point, we can even start another brainstorming process centered on one of the lines that have remained open.
The creative process is a moment of excitement, it consumes a lot of energy and, therefore, we can not keep it too long. There comes a time when thinking minds enter a vicious circle, they go around same concept and nothing new appears on the table. It can even be perceived in the facial expression of the participants. It’s time to rest. Rest the mind and continue later.
The more experience the team has, the easier it is to reach the optimum moment of idea generation; but a wear of the team itself can also be harmful. Therefore, it is advisable to include external people from time to time. They contribute with fresh air!