Innovation: Brainstorming Tips for Success

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Innovation is often driven by thinking "outside the box." Brainstorming is a process to generate those breakthrough ideas. Here are 14 ideas to successful brainstorming.

1. Put time limits on each part of the exercise.

2. No one can dismiss an idea when the brainstorming starts and it will create an atmosphere of openness and trust.

3. Start out with a break the ice activity to engage the group.

4. Try using a neutral environment.

5. Do not let anyone raise an objection during the creative part of the process because the promise is that "nothing is impossible."

6. Make sure to combine similar ideas and to discard duplicates.

7. The role of the facilitator is to get those involved who are quiet.

8. Offer gag or joke prizes for different ideas like, longest, shortest, and craziest.

9. The facilitator should never comment on the ideas.

10. A clear understanding of the desired results and of what has not previously worked gone miles to quickly eliminating the non-starters and "been there, done that."

11. Check your ego (and your shyness) at the door and bring your A-game of courageous ideas.

12. Stack and rack the best and then take action. The process has to have a tangible conclusion; otherwise it can turn into group therapy.

13. Discuss the session with senior people ahead of time to make sure they quickly take some ownership in the problem when offering ideas. This frees up lower level staff to participate.

14. Try inviting some "unusual" participants if you want truly innovative ideas.

The Takeaway

Effective brainstorming takes planning and a positive atmosphere. One way to end the session is to issue a challenge for the participants to suggest their wildest ideas. That permission to offer up any ideas no matter how unusual can create breakthrough ideas.

That is the list. Over to you. Please comment below.

1. What is your secret to a great brainstorming session?

2. What else would you add to the list?

3. How important do you feel the facilitator is in the session?

Copyright 2011 by Rob Berman

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