Adam Schnitzler, co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of The S3 Agency, a digital advertising, public relations and social media firm in New Jersey, writes with these tips to improve your next brainstorm session:
– Prime the team. Creativity is problem solving, and problem solving occurs mainly in the subconscious. Always brief participants at least a day in advance of your brainstorm.
– Don’t let “good” kill “great.” Everyone knows that negativity should never be allowed in a brainstorm. Not everyone realizes the same goes for positivity. Anyone “selling,” “explaining,” or even “expanding” on an idea is stopping the creative flow.
– Question everything. At the brainstorm, approach the problem from several angles by asking great questions. Prepare at least four great questions in advance, develop others as the brainstorm proceeds. Ask a precise, focused question and have the team brainstorm possible answers in a short amount of time. Gather the results, and then ask another question. Repeat several times and you’ll have a lot of ideas.
– Shorter is better. Tight time limits produce better results, so keep meetings to 45 minutes or less. Keep each brainstorming session within that meeting to 5 minutes or less.
– Write it down, don’t shout it out. Brainstorms, like focus groups, can be hijacked by the loudest, most influential people in the room. To avoid this, people should write down their ideas.
– Stick it. Participants should write their ideas onto Post It notes and have a volunteer put them up on a wall. You can spend part of your time grouping those ideas for later consideration and evaluation.