How to Increase Effectiveness of Group Brainstorming

In order to run a successful business, you need to be able to successfully solve problems that arise, find ways to effectively market your products, strive to make your products and services the best they can be and also develop new ones to keep up with changing needs. At the core of all these issues is the ability to think creatively and generate new ideas. Group brainstorming can be a highly effective way to do this if done the right way. Here are some tips to help make these sessions the most productive they can be and maximize creative thinking.

Clearly Define the Problem

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This piece of advice may seem obvious but it is often something we overlook. Before beginning your brainstorming session, it needs to have a specific focus. Clearly define the issue at hand and what exactly you are looking to accomplish. Explicitly state what criteria needs to be met to be a viable option.

Organize/ Analyze Information After the Session

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Brainstorming sessions are all about letting the creative mind take over and just getting out as many ideas as possible. It is not the time to heavily scrutinize the ideas set forth and organize the information. These tasks all place heavy focus on logical thinking, which can hamper the creative process. Logical thinking surely has its place, but should not be a major component of the brainstorming session.

Any discussion taking place during the session should be geared towards exploring certain ideas further and generating new ideas, not debating, judging, analyzing or getting too deep into how a certain idea will lead to the solution.

Encourage Building on Others Ideas, Not Just Generating New Ones

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While you want everyone to come up with as many ideas as they can on their own, you also want to encourage people to build off of other people’s ideas. One person’s thoughts on how to approach something can be an excellent foundation that can easily be shifted or modified to find an even better approach. If you find a lull in the session, asking everyone to look at what already has been suggested and how you could possibly add to or tweak those ideas.

Experiment with Reverse Brainstorming

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Reverse brainstorming is a technique that may help generate more creative ideas by allowing you to look at the situation from a different angle; it may be particularly useful for improving products and services. To start, you must clearly define what you are hoping to accomplish. Then you ask one of two “reverse” questions: Instead of “How can I get the desired effect?”, you would ask “What would I do to get the exact opposite of the desired effect?”, instead of “How can I solve/prevent this problem?”, you ask “What could I do to cause this problem?”

Try “Rolestorming”

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People’s worry about sounding stupid or being judged for their ideas can be a major barrier to an effective brainstorming session. Suggesting ideas while adopting the identity of someone else may help with this. You would perform a brainstorming session as normal at first, but then, people in the group would assume another identity—it may be a famous person, a friend, a competitor or someone else in your company. Based on how this person ‘s attitude, personality, world view and the like, you would offer ideas from their perspective. Not only will it help break down inhibitions, it can help generate new ideas due to looking at things from a different angle. You can also have the whole group adopt one role collectively.

About the Author: Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who enjoys creating articles that help people run their businesses more successfully. After a successful brainstorming session for new marketing ideas, check out Exhibit Deal for a great selection of displays for trade shows, point of purchase sales and many other needs.

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