How do you keep your brainstorming session from a hitting a wall? Learn how you, as the facilitator, can prompt new discussion and ideas in an impartial way.
- Every brainstorming session must begin with your goal. You'll set up the session by turning your goal into a question. If you'll be conducting team brainstorming, then you'll need to keep the ideas flowing after you kick off the question. The best way to keep ideas flowing is to keep asking questions and avoid making statements. You want to keep the energy high and the pace moving along comfortably. This approach is called prompting and it's pretty straightforward. As the session goes on, you'll prompt the participants by saying things like what else, thanks, keep it coming, more on that idea, who else, anyone else? Avoid compliments.
You don't want to say things like great idea or I really like that one. That breaks one of our four rules since it passes judgment. Even though it's good judgment, it'll shut the group down. Pay careful attention to the way that you use prompts. For example, who else makes it clear that you're inviting others to participant. Anyone else suggests you're wrapping up that portion of the activity. Another approach to keep your session moving is through paraphrasing. Participants like to be heard and you can acknowledge what they're saying without passing judgment by paraphrasing.
If someone shares an idea, you can respond by saying, "It sounds like you're suggesting dot dot dot. "Is that right?" If you hit a low, you can look through the ideas and review them by saying, "Okay, we've heard this idea, this idea, and that idea. "What else do we have?" A final approach you can leverage is using leading questions. If the group gets stuck, silent, or the ideas are too similar, you'll need to lead the group. Ask questions like, "Any alternatives that exist on this idea? "Or can we implement this idea in a different way? "Or have we considered anything further "on these ideas over here?" Leading questions are dangerous as they can make it seem as if you're showing favoritism towards particular ideas too early in the brainstorming process.
At some point, however, you're going to have to make a short list of ideas. So if things have stalled out, you can make a natural progression towards developing the short list and hope it reengages the group. And don't forget about the opportunity to adapt the techniques. You may find ample reasons to apply SCAMPER or move the short list of ideas into a new brainstorming technique to further that discussion.
- Brainstorming techniques
- Conducting brainstorming sessions
- Mind mapping ideas
- Forced ranking
- Card sorting
- Asking tough questions
- Reverse brainstorming
- Stages of problem-solving