Brainstorming (or mindstorming) is the process that everybody thinks they understand but very few people do. There are two reasons is for this. The first is that it is best used for attacking specific rather than general problems and where a collection of good, fresh, new ideas are needed. This means not going over old ground or asking too open ‘what are we going to do now?’ type questions. The second reason is that it is not the place for analysis, judgements or decision making. You must not have these within a mindstorming session – it simply won’t work. So here is a quick guide to the rules of running your mindstorming session:
1. Suspend judgement – this cannot be overstated. It’s the most important rule. When ideas are presented absolutely no critical comments are allowed. None at all. This is so hard for most people whose brains only operate in a critical (non-creative) manner. Filtering ideas will shut down the creative process and create an atm osphere where people won’t be willing to submit their ideas. This is why most sessions fail.
2. Write ALL ideas down – there are no bad ideas in a mindstorming session. Remember, no filtering. It’s quantity not quality you are interested in. Think along the lines that you need to get 100 or so ideas (not caring if they’re good or bad!) before you’re allowed to come up with something useful.
3. Think Impossible and Ridiculous – if you think only about sensible ideas and search only for the perfect idea then you’ll also fail to come up with anything new. The route to genius does not lie on the often travelled path. Deliberately think of stupid, preposterous and truly ridiculous ideas (and write them all down). These open up new routes for your mind and others to explore and find answers.
4. Enjoy it – be silly and playful. Seriousness kills the process. This is why boring people remain dull and serio us people never come up with anything new. The session is sacred. You are allowed to relax your guard.
5. No ownership – the ideas belong to the session not to one individual. If you don’t stress this people hold back, not wanting to give too much away in case credit is stolen. Everyone in the group gets credit as every mind will have contributed to the process.
For infomation on running a brainstorming meeting click here.
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