Brainstorming for Success

Perhaps you’ve been in meetings before where everyone talks in circles, not getting to a point and where you walk away feeling tired, unproductive and disillusioned. However well-intentioned, some meetings go astray when the initial goal was to brainstorm and obtain solutions for the way forward. This article will present some steps for successful brainstorming sessions, which I hope will change the way you think about this type of strategy for teams.

  • Designate a team lead. This may be the person who usually chairs the meeting, or it could be someone who has an interest in getting to the real solutions available. The team lead will set ground rules; for example, only one person speaking at a time; and will control contributions from members in the interest of time.
  • Identify the problem. In fact, the problems may be multiple. The team lead will note the problems, so that each one agreed to by the team can be discussed. Objectives for each problem should be identified; and each problem prioritised.
  • Identify the reasons for the solutions. We all know that multiple solutions can be presented, but the “why” behind the solutions is absolutely important. For example, if a company wishes to design an umbrella with a shorter handle, the reason behind the change of length should be identified, instead of leaving the solution in isolation. For example, “We wish to design an umbrella with a shorter handle so that users could have better control during windy weather.”
  • Ensure that each person has a say. The strongest brainstorming sessions allow each team member to present their thoughts and concepts without fear of intimidation or ridicule. I remember sitting in on a session where it was clear that the staff was intimidated by their Marketing Manager. Hardly anyone contributed concepts that were opposite to his, although his concepts were not the strongest. There is no point to this type of brainstorming; and in such cases, it may be better to create teams within the team, so that individuals do not feel singled out or even afraid to present their ideas.
  • Sort the ideas. After all ideas have been presented, the team should now prioritise the ideas. In terms of which may be easiest to implement; which ideas may be most viable and which ideas truly hit the nail on the head, a sifting process must be done. A point of note is that there are different personalities in each team and the moderator must be cognisant of strong personalities who may wish to impose their views onto the team.

At the end of the day, the brainstorming session should not be one held in isolation. Sometimes, there may be meetings further to the session, papers created for presentation to senior executives or more discussion after the session. If a brainstorming session is held and after that, nothing happens, then it would have all been in vain. Brainstorming is a strategy tool that should lead to improvement and positive change.

Lots of love & good vibes, Veoma Ali

Veoma Ali is an Advertising Executive, with a Ph.D in Communications and a Masters in Business Administration.