Brainstorming without Homework = Incomplete

Don’t forget to hit the books for your next brainstorming session.

Wendy Ruyle 6.11.24


Did you ever attend a brainstorming session where it seemed to take forever to get things moving and get the ideas out? Even if everyone in the room is a creative star you can end up with a dud of a session if you don’t prepare.

It could be that no one did their homework or, more likely, no homework was assigned.

Lay the groundwork

To make the best of the time you have for a group brainstorming it is important for everyone in the group to have thought a bit about the subject beforehand. Each participant should review any background material and spend some quiet time on their own coming up with potential solutions. Provide them with a structure for their thoughts with a worksheet for your project using a brainstorming exercise like: The Lotus Blossom Technique, 50 – 30 – 10, or Opposites Attract.

Give your team space

It is also important to allow enough time between individual brainstorming and group brainstorming to put the problem in the back of your mind and let the subconscious work on it. Have your team do their homework at least a day before your group session. That way they might dream about it, or an idea might come to them while doing housework, exercising, or showering.

Foster creativity

Group sessions are great for building on existing ideas and making them better but there is a danger of groupthink if no one has done their individual work. Group dynamics tend to reward the loudest and most aggressive participants, not necessarily the ones with the best ideas.

Or, if you don’t generate enough ideas with enough variety, the first idea (which is hardly ever the best one) just gets rehashed repeatedly. Use the time you have with the group to outline all ideas. Remember, no judgment! Build on those ideas, see what other ideas are sparked. Narrow the ideas down to the very best. And lastly, refine those to make them the best they can be.

Don’t stop

Even after the session is over, more ideas are going to creep up. Create a channel for participants to share new solutions and keep refining selected ones.

Use these techniques to get an A+ on your next brainstorming assignment.

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