5 Mistakes to Avoid When Brainstorming

by Gilda Bonanno LLC http://www.gildabonanno.com/

A few years ago, I was called in to an organization to work with a team that was not performing up to its potential. I observed a team meeting during which a brainstorming session occurred and could see from their behavior during this meeting why the team was dysfunctional.
Here are the 5 mistakes I observed that you should avoid when conducting a brainstorming session:

1. No brainstorming process. The meeting facilitator just said, "Let's brainstorm ideas" and it became a free-for-all, with no guidelines or time limit.

2. No clear focus. When one person started looking at another company's solutions as a means of triggering ideas, one person said "Great" and started working off of them, while another person said, "Stop listing those other solutions. It's annoying," and the meeting facilitator said nothing.

3. No public listing of all the ideas. The facilitator made notes in her own notebook, but only of the ideas that she liked.

4. No open or encouraging environment for all ideas. Ideas were labeled "bad" by team members. In fact, I observed team members rolling their eyes and laughing at ideas, saying out loud, "what a dumb idea."

5. No clear time limit. Clearly the meeting facilitator had an idea of how long the brainstorming session should take because at one point she said to someone sharing an idea, "Hurry up - move on." However, the time limit was never communicated to the team.

For more on how to brainstorm effectively, see my July 21 post, "8-Step Brainstorming Process."

Gilda Bonanno's blog www.gildabonanno.blogspot.com