Brainstorming Over Time

Get more ideas to bubble up by allowing more time and a collaborative space for the process.

Wendy Ruyle 8.31.2022

We’re all familiar with those two-hour brainstorming sessions where the ideas are supposed to form like magic just by using Post-its and colorful markers. At the end of the meeting, you have maybe one half-formed thought—not helpful.

Sometimes these sessions work great, especially if you have the right people in the room with the right set of perspectives and experiences. But most of the time that’s not the case. Allowing more time for ideas to form and for your team to build on those ideas may be just the ticket.

Here are a few ways to extend your brainstorming session—in-person or virtually.

Assign homework

Giving your team the basics of the assignment a few days or a week before the session will allow them to do some of their own research into best practices and get the ball rolling. If you start the sessions with a few nuggets of ideas, you can use the time in your meeting to make them more fully formed. This will also allow those who need more contemplative time to participate fully.

Create an on-going brainstorming board

Before or after your session, create a place where your team can collaboratively grow ideas in their downtime. If your team is in person, stake out a conference room or white board wall that you can own for a week or two. Put up the ideas you have. Include photos or phrases pulled out of magazines, drawings, color palettes, links to relevant background, or anything that might spark a new thought. Suggest your teammates stop by daily to review progress and add thoughts.

If your team is remote, use a collaborative brainstorming tool like Miro or Conceptboard to do the same thing online. Be sure to thank and reward those that participate to encourage more collaboration.

Get outside input

If you are able, share your collaborative space with a second tier of stakeholders. A fresh perspective from outside your direct team can sometimes make connections that you can’t when you are too close to it. It could just be someone walking by on the way to the water cooler, or you can make it a more formal invitation. Either way, you’ll start to see which ideas are resonating. And which ideas have flaws that can’t be overcome.

Planning for an extended brainstorm phase and creating a safe and welcoming space for collaboration will increase both the quantity and quality of your ideas and ultimately lead to a better solution.

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