July 05, 2010
26 Reasons Why Most Brainstorming Sessions Are a Big Disappointment

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Whenever I ask my clients to tell me about the quality of the brainstorming sessions in their company, they usually roll their eyes and grumble.

Simply put, most brainstorming sessions don't work.

Not because brainstorming, as a process, doesn't work -- but because they're usually done poorly.

What follows are 26 of the most common reasons WHY -- and after that, a list of what you can do to differently to turn things around. Ready?


1. Lame facilitation

2. Wrong (or poorly articulated) topic

3. Unmotivated participants

4. No transition from "business as usual"

5. Insufficient diversity of participants

6. Addiction to the status quo

7. Lack of clear ground rules

8. Sterile meeting space

9. Hidden (or competing) agendas

10. Lack of robust participation

11. The boss is in the room

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12. Habitual idea killing behavior

13. Attachment to pet ideas

14. Discomfort with ambiguity

15. Hyper-seriousness (not enough fun)

16. Endless interruptions

17. PDA addiction (Crackberries)

18. Premature adoption of the first "right idea"

19. Group think

20. Hierarchy, turfs, and competing sub-groups

21. Imbalance of divergent and convergent thinking

22. No tools or techniques to spark creativity

23. Inadequate idea capture

24. Meaningless speed. No time for reflection

25. Pre-mature evaluation

26. No real closure or next steps


WHAT CAN YOU DO TO TURN THINGS AROUND?

1. Find, train (or hire) a skillful facilitator

2. Make sure you're focusing on the right challenge.

3. Invite people who care about the topic.

4. Invite people with diverse points of view.

5. Spend time clarifying the "current reality".

6. Start with a fun icebreaker to help change mindset.

7. Ask participants to establish clear meeting ground rules.

8. Design (or find) a more inspiring meeting space.

9. Establish alignment re: session goals.


10. Find ways to engage the least verbal participants.

11. Establish "deep listening" as a ground rule. Model it.

12. Invite participants to name classic idea killing statements.

13. Elicit the group's pet ideas in the first 30 minutes.

14. Explain how ambiguity is part of the ideation process.

15. Tell stories, play music, invite humor.

16. Go off site. Put a "meeting in progress" sign on the door.

17. Collect all PDAs/cell phones. Establish "no email" ground rule.

18. Go for a quantity of ideas. Let go of perfectionism.

19. Encourage individuality, risk taking, and wild ideas.

20. Ask people to leave their titles at the door.

21. Start with divergent thinking. End with convergent thinking.

22. Use tools and techniques to spark original thinking.

23. Enroll scribes, use post-its, have an idea capture process.

24. Create time for individuals to reflect on new ideas.

25. Explain that evaluation will happen at the end of the session.

26. Identify and enroll "champions". Explain the follow up process.

Our approach
Virtual brainstorm facilitation training


Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at July 5, 2010 07:45 AM

Comments

Found a few gems here that I hadn't seen before. Thanks Mitch! I'll take the humor suggestions to heart!

Posted by: Mark Dykeman [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 9, 2010 01:49 PM

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