“One must have the liberty to fail… because without being able to try and experiment and fool around and tinker, you’re not going to be able to bring the elements of your influence to a new place.” – Joy Garnett
Brainstorming – that unpredictable, sometimes elusive way in which we conjure up ideas that occasionally grow into brilliant concepts. You’d think by now we’d have a tried and true formula, considering all the time we’ve spent in brainstorming sessions. But it seems to be anything but an exact science and really more about a subtle chemistry.
Have you ever wondered why the same group of people can have a wildly successful brainstorming session one day and a complete dud the next? While both groups generate a list of ideas, the creativity, uniqueness and quality of thinking is most likely very different. While there are countless factors that come into play, the magnetism or chemistry of the group is one that’s often overlooked.
Creative minds can come together with the best of intentions, but if the general feeling or mood is off within the group, you’re probably headed for 90 dismal minutes of just going through the motions. In hopes of creating more inspired, in-the-moment brainstorming sessions, here are a few tips to better encourage and maintain a fresh flow of creative thinking.
Initial Brainstorming Do’s and Dont’s:
- Don’t hate: no sighing, interrupting, or eye-rolling; if people are too afraid of saying something dumb, it’s pointless.
- Suspend judgement: at this point, all ideas have value and are potentially good.
- Can’t criticize and create at the same time: instead of instantly evaluating someone’s idea, let one idea give rise to another.
- Drop preconceptions: work hard to see the problem with fresh eyes; think beyond what is known or thought to be known.
- Encourage the absurd: effective solutions often emerge from silly, impractical places; a random thought can inspire something all together new.
- Create an open atmosphere: encouraging others with attentive listening, smiles, etc.; a lack of freedom and openness inhibits discovery.
- Promote a collaborative culture: one of mutual respect and teamwork; without ego or one upping.
- Set a fun, relaxed tone: if the weather’s gorgeous, go to the park; bring art supplies, snacks or music; make it more of a hang out, less of a meeting.
- Cultivate genuine enthusiasm: if you want to be there so will your ideas.