Think Bigger: Brainstorming to the Fullest


While in the midst of planning for next year, I keep hearing “How do we make this social?” My initial reaction is a sassy one that sounds a little like, “Oh, well, it’s kind of like that EASY button everyone keeps talking about. I’ll just press the SOCIAL one and done!’ The real answer is, “Let’s look at our goals and objectives, and we’ll go from there.” So, any good plan starts there – asking the right questions to come up with brilliant ideas, only to be … well you know…

So let’s go back to that first step. Here are my thoughts on how to have the most productive brainstorm.

  1. Be mindful of time: Always plan for at least an hour to brainstorm. For those of you in agency work, you know that it takes a good 15 minutes to shut down your brain from other billable work.
  2. Think who: One important factor to creative thinking is people diversity. The room should include people from different backgrounds, and those who may never have worked on the project to bring some out-of-the-box thinking.
  3. Environment is everything: Think about what sparks your creativity. Make sure the room is open and arrange it so that people are facing each other, to encourage participation. Bring out toys, holiday lights or even themed decorations. Who can resist a pirate patch? Argghh matey.
  4. Ask the right questions: A productive brainstorm has to be a carefully planned one. Think about who needs to be in the room, what you want you want to get out of the meeting, and what questions you want to ask to spark ideas. Spend at least an hour prepping for the meeting – research your target audience and develop 4-5 questions that align with your business objectives. Your first question should be slightly unrelated – just to warm-up. This could be, “What’s your favorite social media brand?”
  5. What should it look like: Break up your hour with 10 minutes for an overview and share any research findings, and then spend 40 minutes creating initial thoughts and allowing time for building. Each attendee should have one stack of post-its and a marker. For your 40 minute brainstorm session, ask your first question and allow attendees to spend 2 minutes jotting down there ideas on the post. One idea per post-it. Then go around the room and have each person share their ideas, then allow others to build on those ideas for another 5 minutes. Go through this until you get through the last question. Then spend your last 5 minutes discussing next steps.
  6. Find themes: After the brainstorm, take time to review the ideas, find the common theme and organized them. Then, ask the team to reassemble and pick their favorite idea, but voting on their top 3.

My favorite thing about this format of brainstorming is that it allows people who are more introverted to share their ideas. No conversation-dominators will minimize your plethora of ideas. Instead you should walk away with walls filled with post-it notes of ideas! Have you tried something similar? How has it worked? Do you have any recommendations of other brainstorming methods?

Posted on July 14, 2010, in Corp Comms, Professional, social media and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Wow this is a great resource.. I’m enjoying it.. good article

  2. I just wanted to add a comment here to say thanks for you very nice ideas. Blogs are troublesome to run and time consuming therefore I appreciate when I see well writen material. Your time is not going to waste with your posts. Thanks so much and carry on You will defintely reach your goals! have a great day!

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