Brainstorming Rules

Brainstorming is a great way in the creative process to break through mental barriers to discover creative ways of solving problems and reaching objectives. Throughout my career in advertising I’ve witnessed wonderfully productive sessions as well as complete flops. In every case, when a handful of rules were applied, the results were remarkably better. It is also a good idea to follow a couple of steps leading up to the session. Those steps include:

  1. Whoever is organizing the session should briefly summarize the topic and goal of the brainstorm and then get it to the team members far enough in advance for them to think about it before the meeting.
  2. The meeting should be held in a neutral location that is away from distractions. For example, the boss’s office would generally not be a good brainstorming location.
  3. Once everyone is in attendance, start the meeting with some general chit-chat to loosen everyone up.

Once the session is under way, follow these rules.

  1. Focus on quantity of ideas: Let go of going for the silver bullet. Just pile on as many ideas as you can. Lots of ideas will reveal surprising results.
  2. Everybody gets a turn: Let everyone speak. Resist the urge to interrupt. When the presenter is done, then let the group discussion carry it forward.
  3. Withhold criticism: This is the most important rule of all. No negative feed-back whatsoever. No matter how silly the idea may seem, negative comments, frowns, or groans will kill the entire session.
  4. Record all ideas presented: You can write them down or voice-record them. But, save them for analysis and discussion later.

That’s it. These four simple rules will vastly improve your chances of pulling a great idea out of your brainstorming session.

If you have an interesting brainstorming story, please share it with us here. Or, if you have further insights into the brainstorming process, please share that as well.

Rob Charlton

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