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7 Brainstorming Techniques for More Productive Team Meetings

Differentiate between feasible and original

It’s important to clearly define the goals of your brainstorming session. Because as a brainstorming session goes on, the ideas tend to get less feasible and more original.

So if you’re looking for something that falls in line with what you’re already doing, you can keep your sessions short and sweet. And if you’re looking for something that you’ve never done before, you should aim for relatively long brainstorms.

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7 Brainstorming Techniques for More Productive Team Meetings

7 Brainstorming Techniques for More Productive Team Meetings

https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2019/01/03/brainstorming-techniques

wordstream.com

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Key Ideas

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).

Frustrated by his employees’ inability to come up with good campaign ideas on their own, Osborn started to experiment with different collaborative exercises.

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.

Assemble a team of people who really know each other

For the best results, put together a group of employees who are not only capable of working together, but who enjoy working together, too.

A brainstorming session is far more effective when the participants are familiar with each other.

Differentiate between feasible and original

It’s important to clearly define the goals of your brainstorming session. Because as a brainstorming session goes on, the ideas tend to get less feasible and more original.

So if you’re looking for something that falls in line with what you’re already doing, you can keep your sessions short and sweet. And if you’re looking for something that you’ve never done before, you should aim for relatively long brainstorms.

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  • It brings team members' diverse experience into play. It increases the richness of ideas explored, which means that you can often find better solutions.
  • It can help you get buy-in from team members for the solution chosen – after all, they're likely to be more committed to an approach if they were involved in developing it. 
  • It helps team members bond, as they solve problems in a positive, rewarding environment.
Why individual brainstorming might bring better results
  • groups aren't always strict in following the rules of brainstorming, and bad behaviors creep in
  • people pay so much attention to other people that they don't generate ideas of their own – or they forget these ideas while they wait for their turn to speak. 

On your own, you don't have to worry about other people's egos or opinions, and you can be freer and more creative.

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The 2 goals of effective brainstorming:
The 2 goals of effective brainstorming:
  • Defer judgment (don’t get upset when people say bad ideas).
  • Reach for quantity (come up with as many ideas as possible).
Obstacles to an effective brainstorming:
  • Fear of judgment from people in positions of power;
  • Extroverts take center stage;
  • Groups hate scary ideas, even it they're great ones;
Steps of the creative process
  1. Preparation: individual study to focus your mind on the problem;
  2. Incubation: the problem enters your unconscious mind and nothing appears to be happening externally;
  3. Intimation: you get a “feeling” that a solution is on the way;
  4. Illumination: your creative idea moves to conscious awareness;
  5. Verification: your idea is consciously verified, expanded upon, and then executed.
Take a Nap

Dreaming is a source of inspiration because your brain is working even when you’re asleep.

If you can’t seem to break through your brainstorming session, take a nap.

Drink

People who are concentrating too hard will sometimes block the creative processes necessary for problem-solving.

A drink or two might just help calm your brain.

Listen to Music

Music can put you into a “mind-wandering” state that’s perfectly conducive to coming up with new and creative ideas.

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Building a better brainstorm

Everyone can learn to brainstorm better - it’s a process like any other. 

And the beauty of a process is that it can be taught, learned, and shared. 

How To Brainstorm Like A Googler
  1. Know the user: To solve a big question, you first have to focus on the user you’re solving it for–then everything else will follow. So we go out in the field and talk to people.
  2. Think 10x: It’s about trying to improve something by 10 times rather than by 10%.
  3. Prototype: Take action. You want to strike when the iron is hot–you don’t want to walk away or agree to follow talk with more talk.
Brainstorming guidelines
  1. Build on each others’ ideas
  2. Generate lots of ideas. Quantity is more important than quality, so really let loose. 
  3. Write headlines. Being able to describe an idea in less than 6 words helps you clarify it. 
  4. Illustrate. Pictures are usually louder than words and harder to misinterpret.
  5. Think big. Invite bold ideas.
  6. Defer judgment.
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The lone, eccentric geniuses

In reality, creativity is a team sport.

The lone genius myth is a stereotype and it’s unhelpful because it suggests the route to innovation is to cut oneself off from colleagues and collaboration. You need a modest amount of intelligence to be creative, but extremely high IQ is neither sufficient nor necessary for being an innovator.

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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.
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Before heading into a group brainstorming session...

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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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Consider utilizing the exercise below to help develop a positive story:

  • Identify a successful event within the organization, or, an accomplishment by its personnel.
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  • Develop a 5 minute and 2 minute version of the story for use when speaking with your internal leadership team and personnel.
Group Development Theory

Dr. Bruce Tuckman, a psychology professor, synthesized team development into four basic stages: Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing.

Forming

This stage of teamwork is all about first meetings and first impressions.

What everyone needs most is a clear understanding of their part in the journey and a setup for building emotional connections. Setting goals together puts their skills and interests into the open.

Storming

Most teams go through the storming stage in some form or another because discord is inevitable. The key value to emphasize in the team is positive intent. 

A little conflict is needed to bring upfront weak spots in projects and to bring new valid arguments to the table. But constant storming leads to the destruction of productivity, projects, and ultimately, the team itself.

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  3. Try to recreate virtual versions of what employees miss the most in office, like a coffee break, for instance.
Being Social While Remotely Working

Being social at office lubricates official conversations and the work itself. The more we spend time with colleagues having non-essential chatter, the easier our work becomes with them.

It helps to be creative and infuse fun into a virtual interaction. Any official conversation, like a manager meeting his subordinates in a one-on-one meeting, can start by asking about the person’s life (something unrelated to work), so that a connection is built.

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When to Use Icebreakers

Consider using an ice breaker when:

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The "ice" that needs to be broken

When designing your ice breaker, think about the "ice" that needs to be broken.

  • If you are bringing together like-minded people, the "ice" may simply reflect the fact that people have not yet met.
  • If you are bringing together people of different backgrounds, cultures, and outlooks for work within your community, then the "ice" may come from people's perceptions of each other.

Designing Your Ice Breaker
  • Make sure that the activity is specifically focused on meeting your objectives and appropriate to the group of people involved.
  • Clarify the specific objectives for your session.
  • Ask yourself questions about how you will meet your objectives
  • These questions can be used as a checklist once you have designed the session
  • As a further check, ask yourself how each person is likely to react to the session.

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