Give a heads-up

It is always a good idea to let the brainstorming group know what they are being called for. Rather than using the element of surprise to generate ideas, let them know the situation at hand. An idea works better when people have had time to process the situation and come up with a solution. Give your team a heads-up as to what to expect during this session and give them time to come up with different solutions. This way, you do not walk into the session empty-headed.

Time your brainstorming session

Imagine being stuck in a meeting for hours together. No one wants to be in the same place, discussing the same ideas for a long time. So, time your brainstorming session. Schedule a maximum of 40 minutes for the session and stick to the schedule. If you still don't reach a solution by the end of the discussion, schedule another session after a day. Give some time for the idea to stay in their heads and get back to it after a gap. More effective than 4 hours of the same session don't you think so?

Have a diverse audience

It is healthier to have people from different backgrounds so you can get a different perspective on the challenge that you are facing. But make sure that you have the right mixture of peers. Having people from different hierarchies like junior and senior level management might not work because the junior level management might be reluctant to share in front of their seniors. That's just a lot of trouble we would like to avoid. Also, it will be helpful if you have people from different departments participate. Not knowing the subject as in-depth as your team might also help in gaining a fresh perspective.

Effective conclusion

Make sure that all the ideas shared at the brainstorming session are well-documented and circulated among the members. Ask for everyone's opinions on each idea and ask them to choose the top 5 ideas that they think will work. Once you decide on the top 5 ideas, hold another session to have an in-depth discussion of how it works. Challenge everyone and don't be afraid to criticize. But do keep one thing in mind: keep it all professional. Remember, you are attacking a common challenge and everyone is there to help you conquer it.

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