So it’s the million-dollar question… How do great ideas happen? Ever watch a commercial and think, “Wow, who thought of that?” Chances are that idea came from a group of people gathered around a conference room who were dedicated to the art of brainstorming on this one topic. But how does this practice result in great work and not just a list of so-so ideas? Let’s look at brainstorming and techniques to help improve your team’s marketing idea generation process.
If we’re going way back, it looks like the birth of brainstorming dates back to 1941 where an advertising executive, Alex Osborne, was looking for a way people could speak their mind and think freely without any criticism. To "think up" was the original term he used to describe the process, and in turn became known as "brainstorming." He described brainstorming as "a conference technique by which a group attempts to find a solution for a specific problem by amassing all the ideas spontaneously by its members. He came to find that when there were no “bad ideas,” everyone became more comfortable and ideas far and wide started flowing.
Bottom line, quantity produced quality and that, dear reader, is what brainstorming is all about.
How To Start A Successful Brainstorm Meeting
Next, let’s explore a few ideas to keep in mind when organizing your brainstorming session.
1. Get Comfy: When brainstorming the mindset is that everyone is on an equal playing field, so make sure you are on neutral ground so everyone is comfortable to express their thoughts.
Think about a physical space where creativity can be provoked, maybe a location where meetings don’t typically take place. Then make sure you have all the right people in the room. At thunder::tech we truly believe that creativity lives everywhere and every single one of us has ideas to share. When building a brainstorm sessions a great rule of thumb is to make sure you include at least one person from each department or team. That way you have input from those who work in different disciplines, even if the project isn’t related to that team at that time. Plus, it’s a great learning and teaching opportunity for teammates who may not collaborate often.
2. Background: Provide your team with some background info prior to the meeting describing what you will be discussing and the area where help is needed. This way they come prepared to talk and you can jump right in. This is one of the most overlooked steps in brainstorming sessions!
3. Game Time: During the session you’ll want to have a few appointed scribes and clock watchers. Order is not lost in place of free-flowing thoughts, afterall. Here’s a quick agenda you can use to build your session from.
- Recap the background info
- Set goals (keep it simple!)
- Assign a timekeeper
- Nominate a note taker
- Record the session so nothing gets missed (we use the memo app on our phones, or if a teammate is calling in, we use our virtual meeting tool’s record feature to capture the audio.)
- Keep the meeting fun so nobody gets bored. We highly recommend snacks!
4. Next Steps: All of this is useless if there is no follow through. Delegate research and data collection to support the new ideas, outline what needs to be completed to hit the presentation/deliverable deadline, and determine if creative is needed to help tell the story of the ideas. Don’t let anyone leave until all the tasks are accounted for and everyone’s to-do list is updated.
While a little structure is good, don’t lose sight of the point.
If all else fails, you can always ask En Vogue what they would do. I mean they have been encouraging people to “Free Their Minds” for awhile now, so they must be doing something right.
All 90s pop music references aside, one of the most important things to remember is to have fun and trust your team, and the magic will happen!
For more helpful tips/tricks on mastering a brainstorming session, take a listen to one of our thunder::cast episodes exploring more ways to open up your mind to creative business brainstorming
Need to add a few more players to your next brainstorm session? Give us a call
and maybe we’ll even bring the snacks!