The Perfect Storm: 5 Ways to Shake Up Your Brainstorm

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After countless traditional creative brainstorms, our team decided to shake things up a bit. Sometimes that means playing around with our own internal workings and tinkering with our brainstorming format. To summon the “perfect storm” for collaboration, we’ve rewritten a few rules typically found in brainstorming sessions (like “creatives only” and “there are no bad ideas”). Brainstorms are intended to do one thing and one thing alone – generate good ideas.

Make a brief (and keep it brief): Rather than blindly inviting the whole company to a brainstorm – that too without any additional context – place a few well-intended boundaries. Give the participants something to chew on before they arrive. Shooting the shit is good (and dare we say necessary) at the start of every brainstorm, but it shouldn’t take up the entire hour. It helps to send around a short brief at least a day before the brainstorm outlining the challenge, ask, audience, goal and a question for everyone to answer. Note: That last part isn’t optional. Bringing ideas to the table beforehand is on everyone’s shoulders.

Switch up the roster. I’ll be the first to admit that the thought of adding someone from account or strategy into a brainstorm makes me a little uncomfortable. That said, you know where the most growth tends to come from? Discomfort. Good ideas transcend org charts. Adding new voices to the mix means getting on the same page right out of the gate, which also makes internal reviews much smoother later on. Keep in mind, you don’t have to invite every team member to every brainstorm, but it shouldn’t always be the same three people, either.

There is such a thing as a bad idea. Let’s be real – we all come up with some stinkers. Now we’re not naming names… *cough-Pepsi*…*cough-Ram*…but there’s nothing wrong with admitting that something is off base. It’s better to catch bad ideas early on, rather than to risk producing something you’ll have to redo or take down. You can absolutely call out concerns, but instead of telling someone their ideas aren’t valid, consider asking them to expand. Sometimes bad ideas pivot into good ideas with a little more thought and exploration. We personally love a pivot, but other times, you just have to let it go. The key is creating an environment where people aren’t afraid to say their ideas out loud.

Listen as much as you speak. Being the loudest voice in the room doesn’t always mean you’re right. This isn’t a call for extroverts to shrink down, but a friendly reminder that it can be hard to compete with big personalities. For every concept you toss out there, listen twice as hard, pick up what others are putting down, and practice not being so precious about your own ideas (Refer to #3.)

Snacks. That is all.

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