Conducting Proper Brainstorming Sessions

Brainstorming is a useful technique if a leader, or organization, use the technique effectively.  I have been in brainstorming groups that generated ideas to solve problems, create a product, or develop new processes; and I have been in brainstorming groups that were a pure waste of my time.  Brainstorming is an idea-generating activity that is an effective technique designed to enhance the creative potential of any group trying to solve a problem.

When holding a brainstorming session establish rules and norms for the session.  Some examples of rules are no criticism of anyone's ideas, no complaining, everyone participates, idea piggybacking allowed, etc.   The brainstorming session should be a positive atmosphere that generates positive energy to where people feel comfortable presenting ideas; no matter how outlandish the idea.  Employees and people should feel the leader and the organization is listening.  People desire to feel appreciated.  So appreciate them!  There should not be an abundance of executives or leaders as part of the brainstorming session!   Most people will not express their true ideas in front of executive leadership because they are afraid of looking "stupid."  If you have to put executives or leaders in the brainstorming session, employ them as note takers or listeners only; not participants.  Brainstorming sessions should not have an agenda.  Let the positive energy flow!  Agendas can limit creativeness sometimes.

Lastly, brainstorming allows an organization to utilize their employee workforce better and have more employee engagement.  Employees can provide more information for improving the organization if the organization treats their employees as more of an asset with idea-generation, rather than as a worker mule who knows how to do only their assigned job.