Brainstorming sessions have long been a best practice to collectively turn needs into concrete projects or ideas into creative routes. Not only is brainstorming an effective way to collaborate and work as a team, but it also favors inspiration and motivation to bring out the best in every person involved. Whether your brainstorming session is conducted in a physical room or remotely, there are a couple of dos and don’ts to follow in order to ensure a successful outcome. Essentially, you want to make sure your brainstorming sessions are always productive, efficient, and helpful to move projects forward and develop innovative concepts that would otherwise not be possible.
Before we go any further, brainstorming, as defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is a group problem-solving technique that involves the spontaneous contribution of ideas from all members of the group. In other words, a brainstorming session should feel like a safe space, where there are no wrong answers, and everyone should be encouraged to share their ideas, no matter how rough or imperfect they might sound. Brainstorming should be about prioritizing inspiration and participation instead of fine-tuning and perfectionism.
The first rule of setting up a brainstorming session is to identify the outcomes you aim to achieve through it. Do we want to come up with three creative concepts? A name for a brand new product? A new visual identity? How much can we realistically expect in a 1-2 hour session? Will there be follow-up meetings? Draft an outline of what you’d like to accomplish in the time that you have, and use it as guidance to conduct your brainstorming session. That way, the meeting will feel less aimless and more productive, like a creative working session with a particular goal.
After establishing the goal of your brainstorming session, inform the participants and give them time to do their research, and come prepared with a minimum of knowledge and starting points to share during the brainstorming session. Sharing a brief along with the invitation is a great way to help participants get ready and do their “homework” beforehand to help them pull a few things together, do their homework so to you speak, and come prepared.
A good brainstorming session is often about keeping track of time and identifying when the exchanges are fruitful and creative and when participants get tired. Monitor your team’s progress and be mindful of their energy level. For example, if you plan on having a four-hour brainstorming session, make sure you include a couple of 10-15 min breaks, especially when you feel that participants are losing concentration. A short break can do wonders for their productivity, as the team will come back refreshed and ready to spitball more ideas and have a constructive discussion. Additionally, remember that there’s only so much that your team can produce in a brainstorming session before they start to stagger. It is important to realize when a meeting has reached its maximum potential and when your team has given all they could have for that particular amount of time. In other words, know when to put an end to your brainstorming session.
A productive and organized brainstorming session must include a designated note taker who commits to keeping track of all the ideas that come out during the meeting. If the participants meet in person, use a whiteboard to jot down notes and ideas and get your collective thoughts clearly and neatly organized. If you conduct a brainstorming session remotely, use a program like Miro to recreate a whiteboard on a digital platform. Meanwhile, for visual support of your brainstorming session, a tool like BOOM Worksite can help support your remote brainstorming sessions. By providing access to the members of the meeting, they can access the same resources, the same images and videos available as sources of inspiration. In addition, when you create a workroom to facilitate a remote brainstorming session, you and your team members can create folders with visual assets that will either serve for inspiration or be saved to be used later. A workroom can keep track of material that will be developed subsequently, and the integrated comment and communication features will help prolong the brainstorming session long after the actual meeting is over.
Many times, the bond and collaborative energy that connects people during a brainstorming session dies down in the aftermath but the hard work isn’t over yet (in fact it’s often just begun)! By creating a workroom dedicated to the brainstorming and development of a particular project, the work connection can last a lot longer, and different team members can go on sharing inspirational images, campaign ideas, and mention each other in comments, and ask for feedback.