It is no surprise, there is more bad brainstorming than good.
As someone who leads brainstorm sessions, you’re going to face jaded audiences. Folks with rock bottom expectations.
In addition to the ideas and solutions generated during the meeting, the way you conclude a session plays a huge part in how people feel about the overall effectiveness of the meeting.
Here are a few tricks I’ve learned over the years…
1) Manage expectations.
Let people know ahead of time how much you’ll achieve during the meeting. Let ’em know you won’t probably end with the plan. (Unless your session is about building a plan, of course). 99% of the time I’ve found even the best ideas often need to be budgeted and/or researched before they can be implemented.
With that said…
2) Get as close as possible to a plan.
Drive momentum. Assign tasks. Make sure your session output is delegated. So many great ideas go to waste when “next steps” are not determined and assigned.
3) Provide an Audio Tour.
End with a verbal recap of the day. At the end of a long strategy session people will be exhausted. They’ll have highs and lows. It will feel like there are loose ends. Play tour guide… In two minutes… recap where you started, what challenges you faced, how you overcame them, and the great results the team created. This is a great way to let everyone know all parts of the day had purpose.
4) Great ideas need champions.
New ideas are delicate and vulnerable. What feels tall and strong during a brainstorming session may look scary and risky back at the office. As a sapling needs nurturing to grow into a mighty tree, so too your ideas need a champion to support them until they’re well rooted.
5) Write a recap.
You can’t count on the team to automatically “get” what you accomplished in your brainstorm session. Brainstorming is like making sausage… While the end product may be tasty, the making is quite messy and not pretty to look at.
You may need to remind people how much was accomplished. Share the big ideas. As with the Audio Tour above, this time in writing provide an account of the original objective, the steps you took to create solutions, what those brilliant solutions are, and how they address the original objective.
6) Congratulate success!
In such a hurry to move on to the next meeting, sometimes we forget to pause and celebrate when we do great work.
You may need to cajole the group into pausing and get them to pat themselves on the back and celebrate the great work.
Hope you find these inside tips helpful. Do let me know how they work for you… and what other ideas you have.