What is Brainstorming?

Brainstorming is a team effort in which new ideas and strategies are created to solve a problem or to reach a goal. Though brainstorming sessions should be designed to be relaxed and free from encumbrances that could limit the creation of new ideas, it is very important to maintain some semblance of order. Consequently, there should be a leader of any group in a brainstorming session who can maintain control of the discussion.

Defining Brainstorming

Brainstorming is the collaborative process by which new ideas are developed. A team creates and discusses potential solutions to a problem and ways to improve each alternative. By using the diverse views of a group, brainstorming incorporates the knowledge of many people and therefore creates a superior, shared idea.

Benefits of Brainstorming

Brainstorming allows people to combine their ideas and knowledge in a manner to create new solutions. Individually, each person might have part of the knowledge or perspective needed to reach a goal, but may lack other pieces. The teamwork of brainstorming allows a group to rely on each other's strengths to reach a goal.

Size of a Brainstorming Group

A brainstorming session should include enough people to ensure a diversity of perspectives but at the same time should not be so crowded as to become unruly and disorganized. Generally speaking, groups of six to twelve work well. But this should not be considered an absolute.

Location for Brainstorming

Brainstorming is best done in a relaxed location. A less comfortable, more stilted environment is not conducive to developing new ideas and communication among the team members. A room with a blackboard or flip chart on which to write ideas is very useful. Similarly, a room with a comfortable setting can increase the value of the session.

Managing a Brainstorming Session

Brainstorming sessions should not be a complete free for all. A single leader who keeps everyone on task and who serves as a moderator is important. This leader should keep the discussion flowing, on point, and organized toward the goal. Likewise, the leader should keep everyone on schedule and should prevent the brainstorming session from continuing longer than needed.