How to Conduct a Productive Brainstorming Session

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Anyone can get a roomful of people together. It’s what you do when you meet for a brainstorming session that will make or break its success. Keep in mind that when you get a group of people together you don’t want to merely be pooling ignorance; you want to get something positive accomplished. Here are four core, business savvy steps to conduct a productive brainstorming session.

Success of a brainstorming session begins with the utilization of pre-meeting preparation. There are two approaches to hosting a brainstorming session. One is to have everyone come in cold so that all ideas are spontaneous and off the cuff in nature. The other is to have those attending to attend with a basic knowledge of what is expected. The latter approach is kind of like a warm-up to the real game played during the actual meeting. Personal experience seems to indicate and support that a pre-meeting prep does not hinder, but rather enhances an environment conducive for more creative and ingenious ideas. I suggest you try both methods to determine which works best in your situation.

A successful brainstorming session must be led by a qualified facilitator.  It should be someone who not only has the know-how and communication skills; but is also a trusted and respected team member. If someone in-house does not fit the bill then it may be necessary to pay someone who is qualified to come in and carry out the meeting.

The meeting itself should have an agenda as well as a format. A popular and useful format is called SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats).  This rubric is utilized by many corporations and institutions. The ideas formulated during the brainstorming session should specifically answer the SWOT format.

The whole process of brainstorming is never complete. It is ongoing. After the initial meeting, there will be a follow-up meeting consisting of a review and evaluation; which in turn will be followed by a meeting implementing needed revisions and recommendations, which then will be revisited on a timely basis.

TIP – Many businesses and organizations use the acronym S.W.O. T. as a method as part of their brainstorming cache.  The “S” stands for strengths of the organization. The “W” identifies the weaknesses of the organization. The “O” is for opportunities for change, correction, etc.; and the “T” represents threats that may hinder achieving the desired results.


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