5 Ways to Brainstorm Better

The path to a productive brainstorming session is shorter than you think. Here are five tricks to try out yourself.

Kick Off with an Elevator Pitch

In the early stages of a brainstorming session, the devil’s in the details. Invite all participants to share an elevator pitch for a big idea before getting hung up on logistics—especially the reasons why it won’t work. Even outlandish solutions can push a conversation forward.

Bring a Cheat Sheet

Spark a lively dialog by giving employees one or two prep questions before the big meeting. Maybe they relate to the issue, or maybe they’re thought-provoking icebreakers. Not everyone thinks best on the spot, and having notes on paper can encourage participation from those prone to conference-room stage fright.  

See the Big Picture

Put all contributions—not just the viable ones—on a whiteboard. When everything’s laid out in full view, trends in thought become apparent. And second-rate suggestions usher in light-bulb moments.

Get Another Point of View

For a segment of the session, invite people with different perspectives to the table, even if they aren’t directly involved in the project. Employees from other departments, for example, can raise unforeseen challenges and propose approaches that wouldn’t be on anyone else’s radar.

Take Five

Whether it’s five minutes, five hours, or five days, give your team time to digest information by breaking a brainstorming meeting into multiple sessions. Winning ideas come when you least expect it. Follow-up discussions ensure they’re developed and implemented, not tossed in a trashcan.

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