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Preparing for Brainstorming

Brainstorming is about letting ideas bounce off of each other and generate new ideas. For that reason, it works better in a group, although it certainly can be done alone.

For an example of solo-brainstorming, see the page "How to Brainstorm."

For a good example of group brainstorming, see "The Key to Effective Brainstorming."

In either case, you'll want to prepare for a good session. This means the participants should be ready to be open-minded and ready to generate a lot of new ideas. You may not have much say in the former, but if you are the leader of the session, you need to be prepared to help with the idea-generating part. How do you do that?

Start by making yourself familiar with the principles of effective brainstorming. Don't assume that this is just as easy as throwing some ideas around (although that's a good start), and don't leave the other participants with that impression. Learn a few good problem solving techniques and be ready to teach them to the others.

Have a written set of rules for the session, so you don't forget anything important. Be sure to read it to the group at the start, and remind them of the rules as necessary. As the leader, you will play an important role in maintaining the right atmosphere.

Reduce or eliminate possible distractions. Have the session early in the day, or mid-afternoon, when the group will neither be hungry or mentally sluggish from having just eaten. Have coffee, water or juice available for everyone.

Finally, have a plan for the session. Know what you want to accomplish. Write out a plan that includes a certain amount of time for each pat of the meeting (time for random ideas, breaking into focus-groups, analyzing the ideas, etc.). Then keep your watch or a clock where it will be visible. Now you are ready.

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Related pages:

Brainstorming Tools is another page devoted to problem solving techniques and other tools.

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