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8-Step Brainstorming Process
by Gilda Bonanno

Brainstorming should not be a free-for-all where people shout out ideas and are disrespectful to each other.   In order for true creativity and innovation to flourish, brainstorming should follow a process:

1.    Explain the process.  The meeting facilitator should clearly outline the process and guidelines.

2.    Explain the problem for which ideas are needed.  What is the question to be answered or the problem to be solved?

3.    Gather ideas.  A trigger may help, such as a creativity exercise or describing an idea that was successful.

4.    Capture all ideas publicly.  You can list them directly on a flip chart or have people write them on sticky notes which are then posted on the walls or flipchart.  ALL ideas must be captured and there should be no judging of ideas at this point.

5.    Sort the ideas.  Group similar or related ideas - the sticky notes can be helpful here because you can easily rearrange them.

6.    Cull the ideas. Now apply judgment, within an environment of mutual respect, and decide which ideas are best to pursue – discuss each idea and vote. For example, you can ask each person to put a dot or checkmark next to the top three ideas. Prioritize the remaining ideas.  Have the group decide the order of importance. 

 

7.    Prioritize the remaining ideas. Have the group decide the order of importance.

8.    Decide what will happen next with the top few ideas. Define the next steps for moving the idea further along the process  - this may include steps such as presenting the idea to senior management, gathering feasibility data, etc.

 

 

Gilda Bonanno is a speaker, trainer and coach who helps people from all walks of life improve their communication and presentation skills.

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