Brainstorming is the best known creativity tool, but still is one with the poorest result. Just because everybody uses it, doesn't mean that anybody is doing it the right way. Even if you look around the web you will find no good source on how to get great results through Brainstorming. So let's bring down some of the myths in order to use the tool the right way and get better results.
It has no rules
Brainstorming is not a license to mayhem - it has rules, just a few but very strict ones. Break one and the whole session falls apart. Here they are:
- Time constrain (every session should be exactly 30 minutes, not more not less) The good ideas come after 10-15 Minutes, but after 30 minutes of Brainstorming everyone is done, believe me.
- Build up an idea: Just one talks at a time - the next builds up on the idea of the first taking it further. If you don't know how to take it further, write it down. Start with the next idea. This way you know which ideas to write down and when. The one who writes does just that and moderate - he is not involved in the storming.
- NO EVALUATION - It's easy if you follow the first to rules. As just one talks, the others can't tell their evaluation ;-) Validating the ideas is made in a second moment.
If you follow these rules everything is fine. To optimize the results you might destroy some other myths.
Everyone can do it
Not only the most creative people can do it, but certainly not every person is right for this tool. It's not the right tool to get people or departments "involved" in the design process. Most of the time is difficult for them to understand, that not every idea is good, payable, or gets the right message. You may want also, that the persons in the team trust each other in order to not be laughed at. If you have people in the Brainstorming which want to show off and stand out, you have to throw them out. No single member of the team gets the credit for the idea, as it is build by the idea parts of all the team.
It brings finished ideas
Brainstorming is the birth of an idea, not the end. After the evaluation, maybe three or four ideas may be tested for the best results. You cannot know out of the Brainstorming session if the idea really works or if it's possible to do. So if you have to change it while you produce it, no big deal, but make sure that also the other members know it.
All participants evaluate the ideas
It's not necessary that all the originating team is part of the evaluation process. In fact it might be counterproductive. The ideas should be evaluated in a second moment and against strategy, cost, RUI and other factors. If you see that an idea doesn't stand up then get rid of it - it's just an idea, there are plenty of them - just the best should survive. Some idea is great, but it's too expensive. Try to save it, by finding out what makes the idea great and, then try to do it cheaper.
It has always a result
Brainstorming is made by people, so not every time you will have the same results and sometimes you get no result at all. Sometimes the topic is too complicated or because the team doesn't play well together. So if you see that there has been no result don't be frustrated but try another technique.