Here are some ideas and tips to help you use brainstorming more effectively, particularly in a training setting.
- There should be both a group leader and a recorder (separate people). The fast pace of brainstorming makes it difficult to both manage the process and record the ideas.
- The trainer should keep the process fast paced and moving, while always maintaining the position of non-evaluation during the idea generation phase.
- Brainstorming that drags on (either in generating ideas or evaluating them) loses purpose, and becomes annoying.
- If the training group is large, consider breaking them down into smaller sub-groups for the brainstorming, in effect combining small group discussion with brainstorming. Large groups can be intimidating for some, and having a number of smaller groups has some creative advantages. However, it's harder to monitor sub-groups to ensure they are abstaining from evaluation during the idea generation phase.
- Provide a time line and stick to it, and make the time line for generating ideas short, to create a sense of energy and focus, particularly if you are using multiple small groups.
- During idea generation, trainer should focus group on quantity of ideas, not quality.
- Ideas should be recorded in a public and visible place as they are generated. Flipcharts, while low tech, are still the best vehicle for recording.
- If the ideas generated are important for use throughout a longer training session, consider having the ideas re-written on paper for distribution to the group, or to be used as a training takeaway.