The Brainstorm Bill of Rights
Not nearly as great as the actual Bill of Rights, the Brainstorm Bill of Rights doesn’t guarantee you the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It does, however, guarantee that the brainstorm facilitator and the brainstorm participants know what they’re getting themselves into. It outlines what you, as the facilitator, can expect from the participants. And more importantly, what the participants can expect from you.
Brainstorm Participants Should Expect…
ONE CLEARLY DEFINED GOAL PER BRAINSTORM – What is the brainstorm trying to accomplish? Keep it simple. For tips on how to do this, check out the Prep Checklist.
A FINISH LINE – What does success look like? You need to give them something to aim for, so that it’s clear when the group has completed the task of brainstorming. Typically, this takes the form of an idea quota or a time limit. Set realistic goals and realize you’ll reach a point of diminishing returns, so be respectful of the participants time and effort.
A NURTURING ENVIRONMENT THAT ENCOURAGES SHARING – The point of a brainstorm is to generate the most ideas possible, so all ideas are welcome. Capture every idea people share. It isn’t necessary to capture every word they say, but get enough to remind you of their idea.
A STRONG FACILITATOR – A brainstorm session is only as good as the facilitator leading the group. Set an example. Keep the group on task. Be a coach and advocate for participants who are having trouble explaining an idea. Referee when someone starts judging other ideas. Keep the enthusiasm up if the energy starts to lag. If it doesn’t sound like a task you’re up for, find someone else who is. You owe it to the brainstorm.
CLEARLY DEFINED NEXT STEPS – Nobody likes to leave a brainstorm without a clear picture of what’s going to happen next. Let them know what your plan is and how you’re going to develop the ideas they shared.
Brainstorm Participants Should Agree To…
COME PREPARED – Arrive on time and be ready to go. If they’ve been supplied a BrainBrief™ or other document in advance, they should have read it.
GIVE THEIR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION – Participants aren’t fully engaged if they’re staring into their smart phone or engaged in a side conversation. NOTE: Schedule breaks to give them a chance to keep up with other work-related projects.
ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE – Nobody rides for free. Every participant has been invited for a reason. They bring a unique viewpoint, skill set or experience to the meeting. Remind them that they were handpicked because their input was valued.
MUTE THEIR INTERNAL JUDGE – This is a fairly typical brainstorm rule. Now isn’t the time to filter, limit or discount ideas. This brainstorm session is about generating the maximum quantity of ideas. There will be a time later to evaluate the possibility of each idea.
BUILD AND DEVELOP IDEAS – There’s no ownership in a brainstorm. Every idea belongs to the group, so don’t be afraid to build and develop on any idea that the group generates. Building and developing is the positive alternative to judging.
PLAY BY THE RULES – It’s something every kindergartner knows by heart. A brainstorm session is no different. If everyone plays by the rules, the whole group succeeds.