Brainstorming is Serious Business

Can’t get enough good ideas from your board members? Maybe you need a new approach.

Brainstorming isn’t an old concept. It’s been taught in our schools. It’s just a process whereby a group of people might somehow dream up solutions to vexing problems. However, more than a few people have been suspicious about whether it works or not.

Major businesses including marketing companies, auto makers, consumer product manufacturers, and research companies all utilize brainstorming techniques. Their teams work collaboratively to achieve solutions that will keep them ahead in their particular markets. Without good brainstorming, their companies wouldn’t survive long.

To get the most out of creative brainstorming meetings, we need to review our perspective and techniques.

How do you view your brainstorming meetings? Have a good attitude.

In your business, you’ve probably tried to conjure up helpful ideas or thoughts before your board meeting and during it. Researchers are studying this meeting brainstorming technique. They’ve discovered that because of social/work relationships, many participants do not contribute much of value. It’s out of fear that a participant might avoid saying anything embarrassing or something which might raise workplace conflicts. Other times, participants brought ideas that just didn’t amount to much when put together with the others. On occasion, a few people will dominate a meeting and preclude input from others. Of course, that’s not a productive way to run a brainstorming meeting.

Free Associative Thinking

If your board members or team members aren’t familiar with free associative or other types of creative thinking techniques, you may have to introduce them to it.

What many don’t learn about brainstorming in groups is that the participants need to understand how their contributions will mesh with others. That way the frustration of not knowing how their ideas are going to be used is not a factor. Anything that gets in the way of individuals being free to imagine and contribute should be eliminated. That clears the path to the goal.

Critiquing is a Necessary Part of the Process

You may have heard that any criticism should be avoided. Studies have shown that meetings where critiques/reviews are allowed produce better results. It’s part of the improvement/discovery process. It’s how you orient board members about contributing critiques/reviews that matters. They should be encouraged to be objective, helpful, and find aspects of someone’s contributions that point toward a worthy solution. Rename it a “discovery” or “enrichment” process.

If participants know beforehand that their ideas will be altered and improved, then they should be okay about having their ideas shot down or laughed at. Those who are just too sensitive might instead be allowed to contribute anonymously or at least do their contribution on their own without having to meet with the group. Some people just don’t like group brainstorming.

Once you’ve cleared any obstacles and freed up time for them to do some creative thinking, then all they need is a more formal process to help guide them. Being time efficient is important.

Try these 8 Tips for Effective Brainstorming from Newsweek, and these 6 creative brainstorming techniques from Entrepreneur.com.

Are you ready to use meeting software to improve your board collaboration and brainstorming sessions? eSCRIBE provides a complete array of virtual meeting services that makes it easy for your members to attend meetings remotely. Save your municipality or corporation thousands of dollars annually in paper, printing, and administration. Meeting management can be better.

The new IT includes incorporating the cloud to access services and scalability that otherwise might be impossible with your own software. It’s a brave new world where employees bring their own devices, and your IT manager and CIO will need vision and excellent judgement.

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