Brainstorming sessions are a great way to come up with creative solutions for problems. They build up relationships, utilize each team member’s past experiences, and create a healthy environment for contribution across the board. In a post for Project Management Tips, Alana Downer has some guidelines to help you get the most out of your brainstorming session:
- Have a purpose.
- Prepare your group.
- Present the problem.
- Establish some ground rules.
- Guide the discussion.
- Offer comfort.
- Use brainstorming tricks.
The Storm Is in Session
What separates a good brainstorming session from a bad one is whether or not the purpose is made clear to the team. Having a clear purpose with background information means you can save some valuable time in the session itself because it won’t be spent defining what the session will entail. Proper preparations should also be made for the team by ensuring you pick a diverse group of people and the right amount of data, but not too much to not inhibit the flow of creativity.
Before presenting the problem you wish to solve, make sure you give your team some ground rules about how the session is going to go. Each session will be a little different, so pick a set of rules you feel best works with your chosen group. Once you’ve set up how the session is structured, you can give them the problem. Make sure they have a few minutes to collect their thoughts before the session starts going into full swing.
During the actual session, guide the conversations to keep everything going smoothly. Setting up an encouraging atmosphere where everyone can contribute without criticism will get the most ideas out of your team. They should feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and believe that their contributions matter in the overall discussion. That said, your goal is to keep everything focused so the goal is reached in a reasonable amount of time.
Downer goes on to say that there are some tricks you can use to boost creativity, such as this one:
Introduce a new constraint to the problem – the idea is not to make the team’s work harder, but to help them think in a creative way. Come up with a new project assumption or an overblown constraint to the problem you’re trying to solve. For example, suggest that the product will be used only by left-handed people, or that the budget for the project has to be $50 or less. That kind of challenge shakes people into action – and since the situation is ridiculous, there are no bad answers to your call.
You can view the original post here: http://pmtips.net/blog-new/how-to-make-the-most-out-of-your-project-brainstorming-session