Being agile is about more than just speeding up the pace of your business. It is also about increasing the effectiveness of the work you do while doing less work. It is about creativity and innovation. One of the biggest aspects of being innovative and creative is brainstorming.

Brainstorming is a creative technique that is accomplished through efforts made to find a specific problem or conclusion by compiling a list of ideas from a team’s members. Team meetings are brought forth to work on issues such as group communication problems, process problems, improving customer service, project scheduling, product innovation and so on.

What Interferes with Effective Brainstorming

The single biggest inhibitor to your company becoming agile is the micromanager. A micromanager can bring your company down. It is vital that if you have one, you help them to change or change their ways yourself by repositioning them within the corporate structure. The hierarchic chain of command will also stand in the way of your continuous innovation if your team members are not empowered to work. You will accomplish the most within your company when you allow everyone to work together at the same level to offer the best ideas and thoughts they hold that will add value to your company.

Rules for Group Brainstorming

Set some basic ground rules for effective brainstorming. Consider setting rules like:

  • Sessions will start and end on time
  • Attendance of all team members is expected
  • Leave any baggage at the door
  • Deal with the issues at hand – not personalities
  • Team member comments are to be kept confidential
  • Everyone is of equal rank while in the session*
  • Everyone participates
  • No side conversation
  • Request a decision from a project sponsor
  • Aim for quantity of ideas rather than quality

* Although all members are of equal rank, it is helpful to have one person facilitate the session to ensure the philosophy of the meeting is carried out and that the desired end of the meeting is met. The facilitator will ask questions but will also participate in discussion and his or her responses to the questions are not seen as the authoritative answer.

Effective Brainstorming Techniques

These tried-and-true brainstorming techniques will undoubtedly keep your business innovative and creative.

1. Round Robin Brainstorming

Position your team in a circle. Go around the circle one-by-one so each person can offer an idea. The facilitator can record all of the ideas discussed can be reviewed once the sharing is complete. Try to refrain from evaluating any ideas until each team member has had the opportunity to share. This is a good option if you have team members who try to hide behind the cracks, staying quiet during meetings.

2. Rapid Ideation

Time limitations bring ideas about quickly, with little room for thought or filtering an idea before sharing it. A facilitator offers the context to begin with, sharing any information or addressing any questions about details. Then a time limit is set for individuals to write down any thoughts they can come up with, without worrying about filtering their ideas. Afterwards the group will collaborate and determine which ideas to move forward with.

3. Starbursting

Starbursting challenges team members to come up with as many questions as possible about a given topic, focusing on challenges rather than answers. Thinking about brainstorming questions gives you an added benefit of ideas – especially if you are working on a FAQ section for your website or product.