Using Brainstorming Activities to Your Advantage

Being a manager doesn’t mean that all ideas should come from you. There are times when you have to go out there and facilitate its inception through activities. This is where brainstorming should help you.


What is Brainstorming?

Brainstorming is an informal, problem-solving activity that can be carried out by any manager. It allows for radical, open and out of the box ideas to be brought up and be considered as solutions to a work predicament. A brainstorming session could also be used to identify breaks in process and recognize potential threats to the workflow.


What are the benefits of brainstorming?

  1. It’s against groupthinking – There are times when you’ve relied on the same group of “problem-solvers” and they fail to produce consistent results again and again. Irving L. Janis, who coined the term “groupthink”, mentioned in his published 1972 research that as the same contributors are positioned to work time and again, they tend to form the same assumptions and begin to influence each other’s decision-making abilities.
  2. You can use the group’s ideas to give you viewpoints that may have been disregarded. As brainstorming is a comfortable environment, it gives anyone the opportunity to bring out results-driven viewpoints.

How to Conduct Brainstorming?

  1. Preparation for the talk including the house rules – as the facilitator, you may want to make sure that the resources that the group needs which may include refreshments, tools (i.e. computers, flipchart papers, crayons) and resources (i.e. internet connection, data for analysis).
  2. Presentation of the Problem – The objective of the session should be specified with the participants. If the brainstorming activity is meant to zero-in on a particular item, you may want to provide them with specific scenarios which clarifies the intention. It’s imperative that the participants have understood the problem and perhaps its repercussions before they start throwing out ideas.
  3. Guiding the Discussion – As the group begins to delve into the situation, your role now changes to facilitating the continuous inputs, development and formation of new ideas. A brainstorming facilitator should also be discouraging any participant from turning down somebody else’s contribution. If the group suddenly gets sidetracked from the session’s objective, you are to bring them back to the point of the discussion as soon as possible.
  4. Thanking the Group for their Participation – Courteously thank the participants for their input. You may want to also send them individual emails, or thank you notes, and maybe even thank their managers for sharing their time with you. A simple gesture could mean improved work relations with them and they’d be more than happy to help you out again next time.

Some participants may expect to hear about updates on their contribution so it’s up to you on how far you’d like to share information about your issue’s resolution.

Great managers use problem solving techniques to be more efficient with their tasks. If you feel like you’re stuck and can’t come up with ingenious ideas yourself, try conducting a brainstorming session. If done correctly, the creative solution you need may just be from the people you work with.

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