Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Let's brainstorm!

Yesterday I had the opportunity to lead a brainstorming session for an upcoming vehicle launch that I'm working on. In preparation for this meeting, I consulted one of my old college textbooks, Strategic Communications Planning for Effective Public Relations and Marketing (Wilson & Ogden, 2004), for some ideas on how to conduct the most effective brainstorming sessions. I thought I'd share a few ideas with you here, and in the true spirit of brainstorming, ask for your ideas as well. Here are some of the author's (my paraphrasing) tips:

1. Brainstorming should last no less than five minutes and no longer than 20. 
2. Brainstorming is not the time to evaluate ideas. If you think it, say it. By thinking of something and not saying it you're silently evaluating your own ideas. Wilson and Ogden go so far as saying that even laughter is a form of evaluation. 
3. Record the session for review later. 
4. Skip the details. State your idea and then move on to another one. Specific details should be reserved for evaluation later on.

These are only a few of the brainstorming tips from the textbook, but I've found they work very well. I wasn't able to steer the brainstorming yesterday in exactly this direction, but we came close enough and generated some awesome ideas. What else have you found effective in brainstorming sessions? 


Anonymous said...

These are great tips, and I'll take them back to our PRSSA Chapter's agency. Thanks!

I also think that the size of the brainstorming group plays an important factor. You don't want to have too large of a group because some of the good ideas might not have the chance to be heard. On the flip side, if you have too small of a group, you might not be able to get enough ideas.

It might be a good idea to have two or three sessions with different groups of ideas. You can later evaluate which ones are practical. Good luck!

Paige said...

Post-it notes and a dry erase board.

These two things are great tools to keep your ideas organized.

For example, when you're redesigning a website, you can build your sitemap with post-its. You'll see that you'll get things done faster than you thought!

Thanks for the great ideas! And, I have to add that I loved that book [never thought I'd say that I loved a textbook]. It really is crucial for any PR pro to have a copy and refer to it when going back to basics.

Anonymous said...

Great tips and blog post.

As you know, I was dialed in to your brainstorming session from Canada. Kudos for running an excellent brainstorming session.

We came pretty close to following all your tips, and the resulting idea's that were generated were excellent.

Look forward to the next one.

Adam Denison said...

Nick and Paige,

Thanks for the additional ideas. I love that book too. Weird, huh?

Thanks for the kudos, George. Now we just have to implement the ideas.

Unknown said...

I don't think you should limit the time to 20 minutes. I've been in some that have gone almost an hour and the last-minute, whacky ideas have ended up being the "winners". I also suggest bringing in a variety of people and including some that know absolutely nothing about the subject at hand. Outside perspectives are great.

Unknown said...

You may want to look at this resource too on effective brainstorming from an article in Fast Company. It uses Tom Kelley from Ideo who writes on innovation. Seven Secrets to Good Brainstorming

Unknown said...

"Brainstorming is not the time to evaluate ideas. If you think it, say it."

Now THAT's good advice.

Alicia Austin | New Hampshire Public Relations