Photo by Lotta Strand
Setting up a brainstorming session can seem easy enough. Just gather a bunch of people, ask them a question and give them some post its. Done. Or is it really that simple? Not if you want to get the best from your team, and get the best ideas.
Idea Hunt’s digital tool makes your brainstorming sessions more fun, and higher engagement leads to better ideas. Everything is stored in the app as well, making it easy to save the results.
I have gathered the best techniques for succeeding with your brainstorming session. Do you have anything you want to add to this list? I would love to hear it so please reach out and we can expand the list together.
How do you design a workshop that fits your organisation, your business needs?
Together with your key stakeholders, you should set the objective based on your specific needs. This part might sound obvious, but the more specific you can get the better. Do you need to grow your sales? Is the goal to have three new ideas to research, explore and forecast? Or is the desired outcome to have narrowed everything down to one idea, for which teams will have assignments to continue the work after the workshop has concluded?
By narrowing down the desired outcome, you set the expectations for the individuals and teams participating in your workshop, therefore helping them to be more focused.
Read more about this here: https://ideahunt.io/blog/how-to-design-a-workshop/
Whether you are doing all of the work yourself, or leveraging our easy to use app, this is a key step. Planning out the different phases or parts of the workshop will help you make sure to keep the actual event moving and use time effectively, achieving your goal before the end of the time allotted.
Before you even get to the actual facilitation aspect of the workshop, it’s important to invite a group of people from different backgrounds and parts of the organisation. These team members will approach the problem or topic of the workshop from different angles, and apply different skill sets, and knowledge. Don’t just take the people you always work with, be bold and invite new people with new input.
You can read more about preparing and putting the team together here: https://ideahunt.io/blog/how-to-prepare-to-facilitate-a-workshop/
Giving your participants a totally blank canvas, can actually inhibit or rather, intimidate your ideators. Strategic boundaries not only limit some of the ideas that might come out of a session, but they can also help act as a springboard or starting point. Your boundaries will narrow down the scope and therefore give them a place on which to focus.
The best way to communicate these boundaries is with a powerful combination. First, visually displaying them and second, verbally communicating it, you make it absolutely clear what those boundaries are.
Here is a great blog post on setting strategic boundaries: https://ideahunt.io/blog/setting-strategic-boundaries-to-free-your-ideators/
It is tempting to immediately put your participants in groups when it comes to ideating and brainstorming. Participants also tend to do this themselves if not told otherwise. As a facilitator it is important to be aware of the risks with this. People influence each other and those with a lower status or self confidence risk not speaking up about their ideas or point of view, depriving the group of their insight. I recommend always doing a first round of brainstorming individually, and perhaps doing a second round in groups, to avoid this. This is a great pod episode about this topic: killerinnovations.com
More and more teams work distributed, hosting brainstorming workshops online has become an important skill. One powerful technique is to combine analogue tools, like post-its and LEGO, with a digital tool for sharing, voting and clustering. Your participants can at some intervals leave their devices to use their hands, sketch or do roleplays, and then use their devices to instantly share their findings with the group.
Here is a bunch of tips for online brainstorming techniques: https://ideahunt.io/blog/5-tips-to-improve-online-brainstorming-workshops/
Everyone gets better with experience, but you don’t need to start with a blank canvas. I hope these techniques and tips have gotten you a head start. And don’t hesitate to try Idea Hunt brainstorming template, it will definitely boost your results! Simply sign up for your free account.