Group Brainstorming

Group brainstorming is very effective, as it captures the experiences and creativity of all members of the group. When one member reaches the ceiling of his or her ideas, another participant is ready to take the idea to the next stage. In this way, group brainstorming tends to develop ideas in more depth than individual brainstorming. Brainstorming in a group, however, can be risky for some individuals: valuable but strange suggestions may appear stupid at first sight. Therefore, the facilitator needs to chair the brainstorming session tightly so non-creative people do not crush ideas and leave a participant feeling humiliated, or that fear of criticism puts a damper on all participants. Nor should one particularly creative individual dominate.

 Tips to effectively facilitate Group Brainstorming:

    • express clearly the problem to be resolved and lay out any criteria to be met
    • keep the session focused on stated dilemma
    • ensure no one criticizes or evaluates ideas during the session; criticism introduces an element of risk for group members who put forward ideas; this will stifle creativity and cripple the free-running nature of a good brainstorming session
    • encourage enthusiastic, uncritical attitudes among participants; try to get everyone to contribute and develop ideas, including the quietest members of the group
    • encourage participants to have fun brainstorming; encourage them to come up with as many ideas as possible, from solidly practical to wildly impractical
    • encourage participants to expand on previously suggested ideas and use these as inspiration for new ones
    • welcome creativity, but ensure no single train of thought is followed for too long
    • appoint someone to record all ideas that come out of the session; a flip chart that all can see is a good idea; not only should it be studied and evaluated after the session, but retained for future reference
    • where possible, participants in the brainstorming process should come from as wide a range of disciplines as possible; this brings a broad range of experience to the session and helps make it more creative


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