How To: Brainstorm Effectively

As we all know, brainstorming can be one of the most powerful tools when trying to come up with innovative ideas.  I’ve had brainstorming sessions in my office, in my home, on the wave; brainstorming can be done in as many creative ways as you can think of.

My favorite part of an effective brainstorming session is that when it is over, you have a ton of ideas that you would have never thought of before. When creative people get together and bounce ideas off each other, there is a magnetic energy that is created and if cultivated, it can produce some amazing results.

Have you ever noticed that some brainstorming sessions are more effective than others?  Something I’ve noticed is that there are definitely things you can do to make the most of your brainstorming sessions.  Here is a short list:

Create An Environment That Fosters Creativity
There are lots of ways to do this, for example, create a safe environment where people know it is okay to make mistakes and ask questions. Try to limit strict time restraints. Creative ideas don’t flow as easily if there are time pressures. Create an environment that is fun and happy.

Do Not Be Judgmental Or Critical Of Anyone’s Ideas
In a brainstorming session you really want to gather a ton of ideas, and then you can go through those ideas and hone them down to the top ones that are the most innovative and creative. The key is to get a lot of ideas flowing and recorded. If a member of the group is afraid of what everyone will think, he will not contribute with as many ideas. Make sure everyone knows that all ideas, no matter how crazy they may sound, are invited!

Keep The Energy High And Positive
Have you ever noticed the magic that happens in a good brainstorming session? The person writing down the ideas can barely keep up with everyone? People are smiling, contributing, laughing, and lots of juicy ideas are flowing everywhere? There is an element to that which has to do with the energy in the room. Whether you play music, give everyone coke and cookies, take everyone out to lunch, whatever it may be, keep the energy up and positive in order to tap into that place.

Stay Focused
This one is probably the toughest for me personally because I’m a total scatterbrain and I’m always thinking about a bunch of things at the same time. It is so easy, especially if the room is filled with creative people, to get off track. I remember once we had a small Bit Rebels brainstorming session on the wave, and when I went back and reviewed it, although it was a lot of fun, we barely talked about the topic at hand. Haha! To have an effective brainstorming session, it is important to try your best to stay focused and centered around the brainstorming topic.

Like John Sweeney says,

“Brainstorming is the rocket fuel that propels us
toward the next great innovative idea!”

This video is from an actual Google employees brainstorming session from 2007. It is so interesting to get a peek into how they come up with their creative ideas.

Thank you to for the inspiring purple light bulb photo!