Better brainstorms: 3. The Rules
In previous posts of this series we looked at reasons why you might want a brainstorm, good places to hold one and whom to invite.
Today let’s cover what sets a brainstorm apart from any other approach to generating creative ideas, like just thinking.
A brainstorm is a particular disciplined approach to ideas generation and, as such, it has rules.
The rules are tough and can be embarrassing for people to implement at first. That’s why it’s important that everybody in the room understands them.
The irony that I’m suggesting the use of strict structure and form in order to tease out wild originality won’t be lost on you but if you’re leading a brainstorm you’ll get better results if you ensure your participants understand the rules.
Rule number one: all ideas are valid.
There are no wrong answers in a brainstorm. We encourage everything from the fully worked-out implementable idea to the haphazard and briefly flickering thought.
Rule number two: share everything that crosses your mind.
Even what may seem like disconnected thoughts could be springboards to something remarkable and relevant so in a brainstorm it is essential that everything is heard, captured and acted upon.
Rule number three: do not judge.
As in the X Factor, so in life: we are conditioned to make judgements, select, rank and argue.
In a brainstorm, however, we’re aiming to come up with many ideas of all kinds, not one ‘best idea’ by consensus. We can suspend judgement.
So we need to unlearn those critical and rational life habits and instead accept, enjoy and build upon everything that’s said. In short, it’s time to be a naïve, excitable and innocent child again.
And since rule 1 tells us all ideas are valid so we can use rule 3 to keep them that way.
Next time: some encouraging techniques.
To see all the tips in this growing collection look at http://earshotcreative.com/category/creativity
Photograph: Rules, Rules, Rules by liber, on Flickr. Used under licence