Brainstorming is more than just a group of people discussing an idea. True brainstorming means creating a positive environment and encouraging the team members – ALL of them – to speak openly. No idea is criticized; every voiced thought is worth consideration, and every team member is expected to participate. The more “outside the box” an idea is, the better! The goal is that the comments, even the wacky ones, can be refined into solutions to the problem at hand and help move the process, project or goal forward.

If you have an issue you are trying to overcome, consider assembling a team of diverse personalities to help you solve it. Do not judge or analyze what the individuals say, but rather, take notes and save the analysis for after the brainstorming. Encourage dialogue, explore suggestions and allow the strengths of your team to shine through with their various perspectives. Don’t let the people in the group criticize the suggestions of the others, no matter how strange the ideas might be.

Brainstorming is a great way to free a group of people to think in a different way and take novel approaches to problems. It lets team members bond with one another, and it’s a FUN exercise for many. Best of all, if you need your team to be on board with whatever decision is ultimately made, brainstorming helps because, since the team members are part of the solution, they’re more likely to commit to it.

While traditional brainstorming is done in a group, individuals can brainstorm on their own, as well. If you have trouble thinking in groups, or if you tend to get overwhelmed or forget what you want to say, some alone time to hash out your own ideas might be in order. You can expand your thoughts, write down notes and let your own creativity flow. Be aware, however, that you may have trouble developing your ideas entirely on your own because you won’t have the experience and perspective of the group. Perhaps some solo brainstorming, followed by a group session, might be the best option.

Source: Mindtools