Brainstorming: How to do it better

A sign saying 'use your brain'.

Jay Ripton is a business consultant and freelance business, marketing and technology writer out of Tampa.

Brainstorming sessions are a great way to develop new ideas and take the team’s input, but they feel like a total waste for many managers.

These sessions usually result in some participants bickering while others just sit and listen without trying to partake. This is, of course, a waste of time and entirely non-productive because the whole point was to take everyone’s input, and if that’s not happening, it’s useless.

Sometimes even if the brainstorming does bring out great ideas, managers don’t have the note-taking process down, and the results get lost for good.

That’s why it’s essential to remember a few things when setting up your brainstorming sessions.  Firstly, no matter how odd this sounds, you need to focus more on quantity and less on quality. Yes, that’s correct.

Next, make sure that everyone gets their turn to speak no matter how pointless the idea might sound in their head – they have to get it out.

In brainstorming meetings, only a few people usually do 60 to 70% of the talking while others go home with unspoken ideas. This phenomenon is called anchoring. It prevents effective brainstorming.

Another essential factor often overlooked is that the brainstorming sessions are usually an afterthought in open meetings. This can be a social barrier for a few people. As a result, most participants hesitate to speak up, especially when one idea was presented at the start, which is being given all the attention.

So, if you are leading a brainstorming session, don’t do it the traditional way. Instead, explore more possibilities to get more ideas.

Here are a few ways to make brainstorming more effective for your organisation:

Creating Diverse Teams

Brainstorming as a team is essential, but holding sessions that include only your team or department might not be as productive as you think. Instead, get the other units and teams involved, as cross-functional groups will improve ideas


Brainwriting prevents anchoring. Participants are told to write their ideas down before the meeting so that the ideas initially presented do not influence the rest of the session. It maintains the proportion of attention given to all participants’ views.

Every participant should put up their idea somewhere, whether on an app, email, or sticky note, for everyone to see and acknowledge. This also tackles the social barrier of people who hesitate to speak up in a room full of people.

Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is one of the most reliable methods of brainstorming. It lets you organize the ideas and information you gather using visuals. In addition, it offers a clear understanding of the agenda and ideas that other participants present during other sessions.

This method can save a lot of time and effort that goes into brainstorming in the traditional setting. In addition, it helps in seeing the relationship between ideas and concepts.

You can find mind maps online to help your organization achieve innovations more effectively.

Rapid Ideation

Allotting too much time to a brainstorming activity can be more of a drawback than a benefit. That’s why setting a time limit for the session might help you in generating ideas more quickly.

Some people tend to overthink their ideas and end up not sharing them. Having limited time would help them share their raw idea, which can be discussed and matured later.

In this technique, the team lead provides all the information regarding the session beforehand, like, topic, deadline, budget, etc. This saves time and allows the participants to sort their thoughts in advance,

Considering the shortage of time, the participants will not have a chance to filter their ideas, bringing some innovative concepts to the table.

Round Robin Brainstorming 

This type of brainstorming gives everyone an equal chance to speak. Then, all the participants share their ideas one by one, and the team leads records all the notions that come up. Then, they keep going until everyone has taken their turn.

Round robin brainstorming ensures that nobody stays quiet during the meeting and everyone’s idea is adequately heard. You can also prevent the statements from being repeated in this method.

To break through great ideas, processes like brainstorming need to become a part of an organizations’ practices. But it is also essential to know the practical techniques to use in brainstorming; otherwise, the whole session might ultimately go to waste.

In Conclusion

Brainstorming is an exploration phase where the quality of the idea doesn’t matter. The thinking might be raw, but it can be refined and turned into a good plan in further phases. So, if the participants are worried about their idea not being good enough, they won’t speak up in the session.

Do this right, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how innovative and creative your staff can be.

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