Magazine article Supervisory Management

Using Brainstorming to Identify Creative Solutions

Magazine article Supervisory Management

Using Brainstorming to Identify Creative Solutions

Article excerpt

Upper management has called together the "best and the brightest" from several departments to come up with creative solutions to a pressing problem in the company. Everyone has heard these individuals come up with brilliant ideas in other settings--but grouped together like this, they produce nothing. No one even volunteers to try.

What went wrong? Basically, someone had the wrong idea of what "brainstorming" is all about. Done properly, brainstorming can achieve admirable results. It can encourage people not only to think creatively but also to define problems.

But it's not enough to draw up an agenda and figure out who to invite to a session. Certain techniques need to be practiced if you want to obtain the best results in the time available. Probably the most important--and most challenging--task is establishing the proper environment for a successful brainstorming session. You need to strike a balance between a casual setting and one geared toward output.

Getting Started

The ideal size of the group is between seven and 15 people (there should never be more than 30). Participants should be seated informally, and ideas can be recorded on a flip chart or tape recorder (anything more formal tends to hamper individual creativity). Overall, the physical surroundings for the session should be relaxing; reminders of the pressure to perform will only destroy the nonjudgmental atmosphere you're trying to create.

Ground Rules

The ground rules that follow will keep the session moving smoothly--they'll encourage the greatest amount of thought in the shortest amount of time.

1. Ideas must flow freely. To encourage, this, there should be no judgment, no evaluation, no criticism.

2. Encourage freewheeling thought. Nothing should be thought of as too bizarre to be expressed. …

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