Brainstorming, a technique apparently so far, but so useful for a Project Manager.
In the life of a project manager, in fact, creative thinking is required every day to solve problems.
Steve Jobs himself underlined it with the phrase: “Creativity is nothing more than connecting things”
In fact, many job descriptions for project managers specify creative thinking as an fundamental skill.
Brainstorming is an excellent way to develop new ideas and creative solutions to problems.
But to get the maximum benefit from this mental exercise it is essential to know how to use it correctly.
That’s why brainstorming is an interesting solution:
- It is far more productive than traditional troubleshooting methods;
- It is less structured and helps people find more creative solutions;
- Helps more to get the agreement between team members on the chosen solution;
- Offers an open environment that encourages people to contribute;
- Enhance the different experiences of team members;
- Help team members to create a stronger bond, both with each other and with the organization.
So let’s see what are the steps to perform efficient brainstorming sessions.
Brainstorming must have a goal
The moderator of the brainstorming meeting should present himself with a specific problem to be solved or a question to be answered; this is how we ensure a productive meeting.
If necessary and if it makes sense, you can provide the team with basic information and basic data a couple of days before the meeting.
The contribution will be concrete, reasonable and applicable only if people know what direction their effort is going.
Prepare the team for brainstorming
Ensure that the meeting environment helps the team to concentrate.
The room should be well illuminated and include all necessary resources or tools, such as a whiteboard, post-it, pens, etc.
A very popular solution is also to include some refreshments. This solution is valid both to make the atmosphere more pleasant, and to prevent people from being misled by creating a way to drink machines 🙂 .
Prepare the basic information – if these have not been sent previously – without exaggerating.
Too much data can easily limit the creative potential of the team during a brainstorming session.
Finally, consider and choose the people who will participate in the meeting well.
If the team members invited to brainstorming session think in the same way, you will not be able to count on many creative and innovative ideas.
A heterogeneous group is therefore to be preferred.
Establish basic rules of brainstorming
To make sure that the discussion proceeds smoothly, establish basic rules at the beginning and stick to them.
Should people raise their hands before speaking? Or will they be able to make suggestions at any time?
Moderate the discussion during the brainstorming
Remind to the participants that the brainstorming session is not a competition, but a collaborative effort to solve a problem.
This is how the team is helped to develop ideas – even those of other people – and to create new solutions.
To encourage everyone to contribute. Discourage employees from criticizing each other. Stick to one idea at a time and refocus the team when the discussion loses focus.
If the brainstorming session gets longer, organize breaks to help members regain concentration.
Comfort of brainstorming’s participants
There is only one way to get many creative ideas: give people the freedom to express themselves.
Even if an idea seems silly or scandalous, it must still be exposed and discussed, it could in fact lead to a new solution never thought of before.
Certainly some employees will be reluctant to exhibit and share their ideas for fear of being judged or that they are considered with no-sense.
Hence, it’s creating an environment in which participants feel comfortable that they will not run this risk.
Also, it’s important to show the team that it’s ok to have fun or strange ideas.
Use brainstorming tricks
Here are some tricks to use during a brainstorming session:
Ask to the team what is the opposite of what you want to achieve
For example: what is the worst navigation project on a website?
These questions lead to thinking of a problem in an unusual way.
For example, any person at any time can say “Wheel!” And everyone in the room will have to get up and move to the chair on their left.
This type of exercise helps people to move, not only physically but also mentally, and can become useful when the team feels stuck or lacking energy.
Introduce a new constraint on the problem, often exaggerated
The idea here is not to make the team work harder, but to help it think creatively.
For example, you can suggest that the product will be used only by left-handed people or that the budget for a given (large) project must be € 100 or less.
Challenges of this kind stimulates people and, because the constraint is so exaggerated, almost ridiculous, people will feel safer to expose any kind of idea.
At the end of a brainstorming session, do not forget to keep the participants informed about the continuation of the process and about new ideas and solutions, through follow-up.
In conclusion, an effective brainstorming leads to greater creativity and the generation of quality ideas.
Furthermore, it can also be a lot of fun for the team!
Which other aspects are important for successful brainstorming? Write us your opinion!