5 Surprising Mistakes You Make While Brainstorming

Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” – John Steinbeck

Let’s step away from our innovation app for a second and explore a more traditional way of innovation management. The brainstorm – possibly the most well-known and misunderstood concept in the innovation business.

Everybody knows what brainstorming is right?

“Of course, I know how to brainstorm, it’s easy!”

However, there is a big difference between doing it and doing it right – most people know how to kick a ball but that doesn’t make them Messi.

Do you think you and your team’s brainstorming skills are on point? how many of these 5 common mistakes are you guilty of?

1. Experts Only

“I’ll invite CEO, COO, CFO and blah blah blah…”

Don’t make this classic mistake. Just because someone represents a leadership position in the company, that doesn’t automatically make them idea geniuses.

Bring someone from manufacturing or customer service. Ask that guy who loves Game of Thrones to join. With their knowledge of what’s going on in your organization’s daily operations, these are some of the people who can bring new and fresh insights into the problems you are facing. Remember, diversity counts.

2. Managers Speak First

“Let’s start by setting up the agenda and telling people that the ideas must be achievable!”.

Don’t restrict people’s imagination. By setting up limits, the best ideas might stay unsaid, and you’ll potentially miss a big opportunity. Let the idea juices flow freely in the first ideation phase.

3. Writing Everything Down

Crafting a detailed transcript of the meeting might be a tempting idea. You can look at it later and see if you missed anything, right?

Forget about it. You’re there to create and elaborate on the new ideas, not to bore people. It slows the whole process and shifts attention from the important stuff.

Don’t be that guy

“Creativity consists of coming up with many ideas, not just that one great idea.” – Charles Thompson

4. We Love Democracy

“Suzan starts, then Brian talks, followed by Maja, etc…”

Great idea! If you want to make the meeting purposeless. Idea creation in this setup doesn’t work.

Let people speak as they want. Some people have more input, and that’s fine. Participation cannot be forced. This, however, does not mean you should accept interruptions – introduce the kindergarten talking stick if you have to.

5. No Nonsense

“Please come up with new ideas but make it realistic and doable.” WHAT? Killing the brainstorming meeting right from the beginning, are we?

Let people have fun and come up with crazy ideas. As crazy as it may sound from the beginning, you never know which one will stick. No idea is born perfect and they all need further work to be the next big thing you are dreaming of! Moreover, some even argue that all truly impactful ideas are thought to be ridiculous at first.

Final Thoughts on Brainstorming

So how did you do? Would you pass the test? Innovation management is complicated and complex. It’s OK to have chaos in your initial ideation phase – managed chaos that is – as you move forward with your ideas be structured.

Here at Ideanote, we believe that balance is important. Our innovation app helps you with collecting and elaborating on ideas that might come from brainstorming helping you structure them without hampering your creativity.

Read how to do brainstorming right here

This blog post was inspired by “The art of innovation” by Tom Keller

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