1.When scheduling the meeting, be sure to include a brief explanation of the problem and its history. This will help participants prepare mentally for the session and focus on the particular issue. The more specific and focused a session, the better the results will be.
3.Distribute a copy of the rules of brainstorming before the session begins. The rules are:
- Criticism of ideas isn't allowed
- All ideas, no matter how wild, are encouraged
- The more ideas, the better
- Every participant should try to build on or combine the ideas of others
4.When scheduling the brainstorming session, the meeting shouldn't last longer than 30 or 40 minutes. Brainstorming sessions can be tiring and if you haven’t discovered a satisfactory idea after 40 minutes then it’s best to adjourn the meeting. Let the participants leave with the understanding that there will be another session. They can think about the problem because great ideas can come anytime and anywhere – in the shower, in the car or in the park.
5.At the beginning of the session, explain the meaning of Killer Phrases and emphasize that they won’t be permitted. You might provide two cards for each participant as they enter the room. One has a green circle on it, the other a red circle. Like traffic lights, when the flow of ideas is positive, participants hold up the green cards. If someone mentions a Killer Phrase, all of the other participants must hold up the red cards. This helps the group identify its "killer" behavior and lets participants know when they should be more supportive of others’ input.
6.If more than ten participants have been invited to the session, break the group into teams of five or six people and have each team brainstorm the issue. Smaller teams remove some of the formality and make people more at ease. And feeling comfortable means sharing more ideas.
7.Write the objective of the session where everyone in the room can see it. Put it in a question form, starting with either "How can we…?" or "What can be done to…?" For example, "How can we better understand the needs of our customers?" or "What can be done to improve the quality of this product?"
8.Be sure to capture all of the group’s ideas. An interactive whiteboard is ideal for brainstorming since ideas are displayed on the whiteboard surface (which can stimulate additional ideas), easily edited and saved to a computer file. Whichever tool you use to record your ideas, be sure that they’re saved for future reference. After all, what good is generating ideas if nobody remembers them after the session ends?
9.If the flow of ideas begins to fizzle, the leader should step in. Some ideas:
- Re-read every third idea. This may spark additional ideas.
- Ask a participant to select an idea and give reasons why he likes it. This will generate conversation around the idea and provide an opportunity to build on it.
- If you’re the session leader, keep an idea or two to yourself. When the conversation dies, share these ideas to initiate more discussion.