When we come together to brainstorm for a client, the entire team discusses a certain need and addresses the objective. Then, we open the floodgates and let the ideas start flowing. It’s a simple strategy that goes a long way. Brainstorms can cover a wide variety of topics from renaming a company, developing a tagline and generating pitching ideas to social media strategy, community relations tactics and ideas for events. Sometimes, brainstorms last 30 minutes, and sometimes, they can seem more like a marathon if we’re on a roll. However long it may take, the end result is that you get an Olympic-sized swimming pool full of ideas to take back to the client.
There also are a few simple “rules” to be mindful of in order to ensure a productive brainstorm.
- Listen. Listen to the co-worker leading the brainstorm. Listen closely to what their need is. Yes, offering up other ideas might be helpful in the long run, but focusing on what they need will help them achieve their immediate goal.
- Try not to interrupt. While we are all guilty of interrupting someone at some point, I think we all know how it feels to be interrupted in mid-sentence.
- Get funny! Sometimes, taking five minutes to yell out the most ridiculous ideas can lead to the some of the best ideas. Oftentimes, you get that “aha” moment during a round of the funnies.
- Research. Bring your smart phone or laptop and research helpful information during the discussion. Stay on topic. This relates to the first point in a way, but is also important for different reasons. If the group meets to brainstorm ideas for a new program tagline and a question arises about social media, well, that’s not staying on topic. While social media will no doubt come into play sometime down the line, it’s not the objective of the brainstorm.
Here’s how Google employees brainstormed in 2007! I wonder if things have changed since then?