Preparing for Brainstorming
Brainstorming is about letting ideas bounce off of each other
and generate new ideas. For that reason, it works better in a
group, although it certainly can be done alone.
For an example of solo-brainstorming, see the page "How to Brainstorm."
For a good example of group brainstorming, see "The
Key to Effective Brainstorming."
In either case, you'll want to prepare for a good session.
This means the participants should be ready to be open-minded
and ready to generate a lot of new ideas. You may not have much
say in the former, but if you are the leader of the session,
you need to be prepared to help with the idea-generating part.
How do you do that?
Start by making yourself familiar with the principles of effective
brainstorming. Don't assume that this is just as easy as throwing
some ideas around (although that's a good start), and don't leave
the other participants with that impression. Learn a few good
problem solving techniques and be ready to teach them to the
Have a written set of rules for the session, so you don't
forget anything important. Be sure to read it to the group at
the start, and remind them of the rules as necessary. As the
leader, you will play an important role in maintaining the right
Reduce or eliminate possible distractions. Have the session
early in the day, or mid-afternoon, when the group will neither
be hungry or mentally sluggish from having just eaten. Have coffee,
water or juice available for everyone.
Finally, have a plan for the session. Know what you want to
accomplish. Write out a plan that includes a certain amount of
time for each pat of the meeting (time for random ideas, breaking
into focus-groups, analyzing the ideas, etc.). Then keep your
watch or a clock where it will be visible. Now you are ready.