Brainstorm Better!

Tips and tricks for producing not only lots of ideas but better ideas!

Group of People Sitting Indoors and Brainstorming
Photo by fauxels from Pexels

Brainstorming In Personal Life

Brainstorming At Work

  1. We created a Padlet board for the team for ideas. The team members were allowed to comment and like each other’s ideas. They had a few days for this activity.
  2. The team was instructed to go as broad and wide with their ideas as possible, with no judgment, no limits. Next, I facilitated a 30-minute session where the team voted on the ideas on the Padlet board. The voting process was to filter the ideas to the most valuable and viable ones.
  3. The second step resulted in just a few ideas that we could pursue further. The selected ideas were discussed with stakeholders to check how willing the business was to sponsor some of those.
  4. After stakeholder alignment, we had a few ideas that the engineering team could take on. However, an idea at this point is just an assumption, an assumption that when implemented could result in greater user engagement.
  5. Finally, we prioritized the assumptions/ideas and implemented experiments (work that required short effort investment). The outcome of the experiments were measurable signals that let us determine if we are truly increasing user engagement.

Is Brainstorming a Waste Of Time?

My Thoughts on Brainstorming

  1. Facilitation: Collaboration happens when two or more people work together to accomplish something. Unfortunately, most Brainstorming sessions are not efforts in collaboration but mere information and opinion exchange between people. Facilitation is needed to make sure that real collaboration happens.
  2. Prework: To have an effective session, there has to be some prework and preparation. The prework involves setting the stage up for brainstorming by — explaining the cardinal rules of the activity, letting people know beforehand what we are brainstorming about, setting up virtual or non-virtual boards for posting ideas, and so on.
  3. Brainwriting: I have found it useful to let the team come up with ideas before we do a brainstorming session. In a professional environment, I usually create a virtual board and let the team put in ideas, feed off each other’s thoughts and ideas by commenting and liking. This allows individuals to think and ponder over an idea before getting into a group activity.
  4. Divergent thinking: When team members are individually putting up ideas, I strongly encourage them to ‘go broad’. No idea is off-limits at this point! The Padlet brainstorming board is usually filled with a lot of good ideas. If it is a mindmap then, the participant is encouraged to think broadly about things that could lead to a goal. The focus is on quantity and quality at this point.
  5. Convergent thinking: The final step of a facilitated brainstorming session is convergence. When thinking convergently, we are thinking critically to select the right answer from the options available. While mind mapping this was the last stage where my partner shifted from having a divergent mindset to converging on the best path that could provide a fruitful fellowship option. Similarly, at work, after team members put their ideas on Padlet, we conducted a 30-minute session to narrow down the choices by evaluating the ideas through the lens of engineering viability and customer desirability.

Conclusion

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Abhi Banerjee

Abhi Banerjee

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I write about climate, technology, business, and veganism. Currently living in Michigan with my partner and our little pup. Have a wonderful day!! :)