Better brainstorming – 6 techniques to make the most of your team

in Idea

Group brainstorming can be a highly effective way of using the power of the collective mind to address a project related issue. Bringing together all the different skill and experiences of your team in this way can help to inspire different approaches and novel ways of dealing with things, and has been used for decades as a project management tool.
The way in which you approach your brainstorming sessions can be critical to the effectiveness of the process. A typical brainstorming session will involve getting your team together to discuss an issue, for which they may or may not have been briefed earlier. Notes are often taken on whiteboards or computers with projectors, and everyone is encouraged to speak out loud to the group. Whilst this works well in many cases, some team members may not be comfortable with shouting out in front of the group, or may take longer to form ideas, thinking after the event, “Oh I wish I’d said…”

Here are some of the more popular techniques for better brainstorming sessions:

• To prevent ideas being influenced away: The Stepladder Technique
Present the issue to the group together, and give them time to think it over. Get two team members together and let them discuss the problem. Add a third member to the group, and have them present their ideas without hearing the thoughts of the first two, then let the three discuss. Repeat by adding a fourth, fifth and so on, until everyone is back in the room.

• To ensure everyone has their say: The Brainwriting Technique
There are numerous variations of this, but the most popular is the ‘brainwriting pool’, where everyone writes their ideas on a card or post it note, and places it on the table. Other team members can draw a card to help them get inspiration for more ideas. A great way to have a quieter, more controlled brainstorming session.

• To get ideas from a big group when you don’t have time to discuss each one: Crawford’s Slip Method
The Crawford’s Slip Method is one of the simplest ways of getting a lot of ideas in a very quick and controlled manner. Simply hand out slips to everyone in the team, anything from five to fifty slips depending on how many responses you get, and ask them a question. Give them some time to fill in as many ideas as they can, then collect them back in. You’ll be able to organise these slips into groups and collate the responses, which can form a powerful basis for a more in depth planning session later on.

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Michelle Symonds has 49 articles online and 1 fans

The author is a certified Project Manager and believes all PM professionals should keep their skills up-to-date with the latest project management courses. She also writes a project management.

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Better brainstorming – 6 techniques to make the most of your team

This article was published on 2013/03/02