We know how to run because we’ve all been running since childhood. But when we watch the Olympic and Marathon runners, most of us acknowledge that we can still learn a lot about running. With new knowledge and practice, our running can improve. Brainstorming is like running. We all know how to brainstorm, because we’ve been brainstorming for years. Yet, did you ever wonder why some groups come up with two-dozen creative ideas and others just rehash old ones? The difference is knowledge and practice. Use the following list of successful brainstorming techniques to practice your skills. Why practice? Because good brainstorming generates the creative ideas you need to improve your organization and activities.
- Seek quantity over quality
- Listen to every idea
- Stay focused
- When you understand someone’s idea, resist the urge to make an aside comment about it
- Value outlandish ideas
- Build on the ideas others offer
- Collect one idea at a time. When you have an idea but need to wait for your turn, take notes
- Be positive
- Ignore expertise and seniority
- Practice confidence. Share all of your ideas with the group
- Go visual and sketch your ideas
- Continue to collect ideas even after “the” solution emerges and after the session
- Conduct a brief evaluation (three to five minutes) of your session to identify areas for improvement
How can you learn to use these skills? For groups who brainstorm often, focus on one skill to sharpen in each session. For other groups, before a brainstorming session, teach several of these skills and then encourage participants to practice them.
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