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4 Steps to Successful Brainstorming

Only after participants have done their homework ...

... meaning clarifying the problem, identifying objectives, and individually trying to come up with solutions, a brainstorming session can be extremely productive.

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4 Steps to Successful Brainstorming

4 Steps to Successful Brainstorming

https://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2013/03/05/4-steps-to-successful-brainstorming/

forbes.com

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Key Ideas

Steps to Successful Brainstorming

  1. Lay out the problem you want to solve.
  2. Identify the objectives of a possible solution.
  3. Try to generate solutions individually.
  4. Once you have gotten clear on your problems, your objectives and your personal solutions to the problems, work as a group.

Before heading into a group brainstorming session...

... organizations should insist that staffers first try to come up with their own solutions. 

One problem with group brainstorming is that when we hear someone else’s solution to a problem, we tend to see it as what  an “anchor - we get stuck on that objective and potential solution to the exclusion of other goals.

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When we are curious, we view tough situations more creatively. Studies have found that curiosity is associated with less defensive reactions to stress and less aggressive reactions to provocation.

Reduced group conflict

Curiosity encourages members of a group to put themselves in one another’s shoes and take an interest in one another’s ideas rather than focus only on their own perspective.

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Stories create “sticky” memories

...by attaching emotions to things that happen. That means those who can create and share good stories have a powerful advantage over others.

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Start with a message
First, settle on your ultimate message; then you can figure out the best way to illustrate it.

Every storytelling exercise should begin by asking: Who is my audience and what is the message I want to share with them? 

Each decision about your story should flow from those questions. 

Use personal experiences
The best storytellers look to their own memories and life experiences for ways to illustrate their message. 

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A brief overview of brainstorming

The brainstorming process was popularized in the 1950s by Alex Osborn, an advertising executive at Barton, Batton, Durstine, & Osborn (BBDO).

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Principles of brainstorming
  • Generate as many ideas as possible. For the purposes of this exercise, quantity is more important than quality.
  • Don’t judge any ideas until the session is over. People will hold back if they think they may be judged negatively.
  • Encourage people to think outside of the box. Although wild ideas may not be feasible, they steer the conversation in new directions.
  • Combine ideas. Encouraging people to build off one another makes it easier for them to contribute and boosts team morale.
Work alone—together

Give people time to think by themselves prior to the brainstorm, so everyone has a chance to take his or her thought process in a unique direction.

A potential consequence of brainstorming is convergent thinking: the tendency for individuals’ ideas to become increasingly similar over the course of a brainstorming session.

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