An Informal Environment and No Criticism | How to Organize Brainstorming in a Company

The brainstorming method is a fairly well-known concept not only in the world of big business. Creative and PR agencies, startups, investors – the list goes on and on. However, not everyone approaches this event with the proper level of preparation.

Let’s figure out how to properly conduct brainstorming sessions, what the rules are and what stages it should include.

What Is a Brainstorming Session?


It’s a way of finding new ideas and non-standard solutions through collective discussion. The idea of brainstorming was first voiced by Alex Osborne, an American psychologist and founder of an advertising agency, back in the 1930s. And his method was derived naturally, as he applied this technique together with his employees to find non-trivial solutions.

The idea was that the more options offered, the better the chances of finding the most appropriate solution. He described all this in his book in 1942. He formulated the basic rules of brainstorming which are still used today.

Rules for Brainstorming


Form a Pool of Participants, Choose a Moderator

The optimal number of brainstormers is up to 12 people. The group composition, Osborne is sure, should vary: it should include both permanent participants and invitees. The group must have a moderator, who will supervise the processes, maintain order, give all participants a chance to express their opinions and discuss every idea.

There should also be an assistant, who will record the most interesting ideas, in the opinion of the group so that they don’t disappear into oblivion.

Create an Informal Atmosphere

To make participants feel as comfortable as possible, it’s necessary to create the conditions for this: the room should be bright and spacious. It’s better to use spaces that the team doesn’t use every day. For example, instead of the old-fashioned “meeting room” in the office to rent a room in a hub or a co-working room.

All Participants Are Equal

All brainstormers should have equal status during the event. To explain why it’s important, let’s take slots as an example. These games use the RNG (random number generator) algorithm there, which makes everyone equal and makes it impossible to predict game outcomes. As a result, all users have the same chances to win while gambling.

With brainstorming, it’s the same. By making everyone equal, a manager or entrepreneur allows everyone to speak up and make everyone heard. So, all members understand that it’s a team effort, there is no better or worse participant. The group is interested in the opinions of all participants.

There Needs to Be a Dialogue

In order to develop the flow of ideas from each participant into a full and viable idea, dialogue is important.

Participants must discuss, supplement, and develop the ideas that have been voiced. This is why dialogue is so important in a group brainstorming session. Of course, there may be situations where it needs to be stimulated, for example, if the team is new and participants do not know each other well. In this case, the moderator of the meeting should be the first to take the initiative, offering his/her ideas and giving them a chance to discuss them.

Stages of Brainstorming


Goal/objective Setting

Before the brainstorming session, it is best to send participants brief information about the task or goal of the project. That way they can know in advance what they are going to talk about, and perhaps come to the meeting with some ideas already in mind. At the brainstorming, the moderator needs to describe the task in detail: what kind of product does the customer need, what are the deadlines, how many ideas are needed, etc.

Generation and Discussion of Ideas

Then the brainstorming begins: participants offer ideas and discuss them. The more options, the better. And remember the main rule – no criticism! It is also very important that ideas are recorded in writing.

The Selection of Ideas

Now comes the stage of evaluation and analysis of all voiced ideas. You need to decide which of them will be accepted for work and transferred to the customer. The decision is made based on a combination of factors, here are some of them:

• How feasible is the idea under certain conditions?
• Is it realistic to execute it within the customer’s stated time frame?
• Does it fulfill the goal the customer has set?

The evaluation of ideas should be objective and based on the real state of affairs, not on the attitude towards its author. By the way, it is best to take a short break before making a decision, so that participants can think calmly about the proposed options.

After this stage, the number of ideas can be halved or even tripled. But they will be the most appropriate and interesting.

Pros and Cons of the Brainstorming Method


Let’s start with the advantages:

• The creative freedom of the participants and the brainstorming format allows for the generation of non-standard ideas.
• Live communication between the participants, respectively, team building.
• Development of creative thinking.
• Development of communication skills.

However, there are disadvantages:

• The success of brainstorming is directly related to the initiative and energy of the participants. However, the company employs people of different temperaments, some are not comfortable voicing their ideas, it’s easier for them to write them down, for example. At such events they may feel superfluous. By the way, in this case, you can hold a brainstorming session online, so that participants feel more comfortable to voice their proposals.
• The spontaneous nature of the event. In one or two meetings it is not possible to study the problem in depth, to think it over well. So, there is no guarantee that the best idea will be found in the end.
• A large number of suggestions also does not equal the best idea. During the brainstorming session, many ideas may be voiced, but after the third stage, it is good if at least one viable idea remains.

The brainstorming method is currently one of the most popular ways to generate ideas. The forms of brainstorming sessions vary depending on the objectives and nature of the company, but the basic idea remains the same. After such meetings, interesting and unusual solutions to the tasks at hand may emerge. But this requires following the rules of brainstorming, knowing the specifics of each stage, and, of course, proper communication between the participants.

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