Monday, October 30, 2006

A refresher on brainstorming

The New York Times' "What's Offline" column this past weekend gave some pointers on more effective brainstorming, courtesy of Business 2.0 (the original article is not on the website yet). Poking around on Google a bit led me to an interesting blog post from Good Morning Thinkers on brainstorm facilitation, which lists key brainstorm success factors:

Judge Later

Avoid Discussion

Capture Every Idea

Be Specific

Build On Other People's Ideas

Everyone Must Participate

Set Time Limit--45 minutes to an hour maximum

Number Your Ideas--100 per hour is good performance

To the above I'd add the following: pick a good group and a good setting. I was involved with one brainstorming session that stood above all others I'd done. The division president asked a group of middle managers to recommend ways to move the company into the future. We assembled at a conference center at Cape Cod for two days, enjoyed each other's company, and generated a ton of ideas, which we winnowed down to a reasonable number on the second day at the session.

We were too young and too detached from the pressure of normal strategic planning to be inhibited. And the environment at the Cape, quiet in the off-season, with the ocean waves rolling in and out, relaxed everyone and freed our minds even more.

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