The keyword here is “organized.” In fact, the more prepared and organized you are, the better the chances of running a brainstorming session that produces great ideas. If you want your brainstorming sessions to be productive, you need to come prepared.
But how do you prepare for a brainstorming session? We’ll walk you through the process of preparing for a brainstorming session in this article.
Set your goals
The fact that a brainstorming session aims to generate as many ideas as possible doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have a structure.
The first step in preparing for a brainstorming session is defining its goal. What are you looking to achieve during your session? Are you looking for a solution to an existing problem or ideas to improve something in your company?
Setting up your goals and expectations in advance will give your team a sense of direction so they can stay focused.
Still, don’t forget that freethinking is in the nature of brainstorming sessions. Your goals and boundaries shouldn’t be too limiting. You should still allow some room for going outside the box.
Prepare a problem statement
What problem will you address during the session? Writing a problem statement is a great way to make it clear to your team what problem you’re looking to solve.
A problem statement gives your team important background information for the session. It helps them think about different parts and angles of the problem more effectively now that they understand its context.
When you clearly explain the problem in a written statement, everyone in the session has a shared direction to follow when coming up with ideas.
Set up an idea management process
A well-led brainstorming session will lead to tons of ideas, and you want to gather all of them.
To ensure no idea gets lost, set up an idea management process before the session begins. Using an idea management software will enable you to instantly add all ideas into the system so you can evaluate them later.
For instance, Ideanote allows you to manage ideas directly within the platform, making the entire idea collection and management process much more efficient.
Choose a brainstorming method
When you’re wondering how to prepare for a brainstorming session, you’re likely thinking about the different brainstorming techniques to choose from.
You can approach your brainstorming session in many ways. Some great brainstorming methods include:
The good news is that you don't have to restrict yourself to a single method. You can combine different techniques to enhance the creative process. This allows for a more diverse and comprehensive exploration of ideas.
Set guidelines and communicate them in advance
To make your brainstorming sessions productive, a set of guidelines should be communicated to everyone on the team. Having a clear framework is key for two reasons.
Firstly, it keeps things organized and helps everyone stay on track. And secondly, it ensures that everyone feels safe sharing their ideas.
In fact, a lack of psychological safety is one of the main reasons brainstorming sessions don’t reach their full potential.
In a study of team effectiveness, Google found that psychological safety was the main differentiator between teams that are truly innovative and those that aren’t… Because when people feel safe within a group, they’re more likely to share their ideas and opinions.
When ideas get shot down with comments like “That won’t work!” or “It’s not practical,” it not only stifles the creative thinking process but also causes the more introverted team members to refuse to speak up due to social anxiety.
Choose the right location
Choosing the location for your session can significantly impact its outcome. You want to hold your brainstorming session in a place that inspires the creative thinking process.
However, you don’t always have to hold your sessions inside conference rooms. Going outside the office can be a great alternative, as changing the environment can stimulate out-of-the-box thinking.
You can also run your brainstorming sessions online thanks to idea management tools like Ideanote.
Invite a diverse group of participants
The goal behind brainstorming sessions is to come up with innovative ideas. But you can’t get out-of-the-box ideas if everyone on the team has a similar perspective on the problem they’re looking to solve.
To come up with more diverse ideas, you need a more diverse group of participants, both intellectually and culturally. So, when creating your team, invite people with the freshest perspectives and from different backgrounds.
However, brainstorming sessions with cross-cultural groups are only productive when everyone listens and acknowledges each other’s ideas.
With so many varying points of view, the session leader should establish an atmosphere where negative feedback is always backed by reasonable arguments and openness for discussion.
Finally, when leading a brainstorming session, make sure to share its agenda with all the participants in advance - including the session’s goals, expectations, problem statement, and guidelines to follow. This will ensure everyone’s on the same page and working collectively towards the same purpose.
How to Prepare for a Brainstorming Session: the Cheat Sheet