It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and energy that surrounds a brainstorm session, but don’t forget your role. You aren’t there to lead it. You’re facilitating a brainstorm. What’s the difference? A leader is there to guide the outcome of the meeting. A facilitator is there to assist the progress of the meeting. Whether or not you agree with the outcome of the meeting is immaterial, as long as the group has followed the rules laid out at the beginning of the process and reached a consensus, you’ve accomplished your task.
Simple tips to help you facilitate your brainstorming session:
Don’t let one strong personality dominate the meeting. It’s natural for brainstorming sessions to have more and less outspoken members. Just remember to give every participant the chance to be heard.
Keep the brainstorming session focused. There will be times when your brainstorming session loses momentum. If progress is still being made, see where the conversation goes before interrupting.
Address negative team members and move on. Be prepared to speak with neigh sayers and other personalities that are detrimental to the creative process. But don’t be confrontational. Get to the root of their concerns as quickly as possible and look for solutions without adversely influencing the rest of the group.
Set a time limit or an idea quota. This simple exercise lets people know what they’re trying to achieve and when they’ll be done. That way they’ll stay engaged.
Have a brainstorm plan and stick to it. If you aren’t sure where to start, download the Think Unbound Brainstorm Prep Checklist whitepaper (coming soon).
Provide clear directions and next steps at the conclusion of the meeting. Your brainstorm participants were nice enough to spend some time helping you solve your strategic problems. Thank them for attending and let them know what their next steps are.