Editor’s Note: This is the second of two blogs about brainstorming. This one focuses on how to conduct a group brainstorming session and what to do with the results. To read Dr. Wirth’s article on individual brainstorming, click HERE!
Our executive director had just resigned and we were at a crossroads. The pandemic had created major changes in how we operate. Where should our board and the organization go from here?
To sort things out, our president ran a group brainstorming session on how to address our major concerns. The session lasted about an hour. Ideas flowed. Suddenly, on a scale of one to ten, we were no longer at sixes and sevens. The future looked less murky and a good strategic plan was emerging.
If you ever lead such a session, here’s a process that nearly always works. Start by announcing several topics to be covered to focus the brainstorming then proceed as follows:
Phase One: Generating Ideas
Ask someone to record all ideas on a white board or sheets posted on a wall.
Take a 15 -minute break to allow participants to begin evaluating the ideas. Some groups give participants sticky notes to post on the ideas they like most. What solutions are starting to emerge?
Phase Two: Voting for Ideas
Ask the group to react to the ideas. What do participants like most and least and why? Are the most popular ideas doable and affordable? Should some good ideas be deferred until another time? Eliminate duplicates and combine ideas that fit together. Are you hearing a developing consensus around ideas you could implement?
Then vote on the ideas.
Congratulations! You have completed a successful brainstorming process.
Got a question or topic on creativity you would like Dr. Wirth to address for The Greenhouse Journal? Shoot her an email at EILEENWIRTH@creighton.edu.
Dr. Eileen Wirth is a professor emeritus of journalism at Creighton University and is an author specializing in Omaha history. She was a reporter at the World-Herald and a PR Writer for Union Pacific before joining Creighton in 1991. Eileen’s books include The Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, Historic Omaha Houses of Worship and From Society Page to Front Page. She is on the board of History Nebraska and a member of the Nebraska Journalism Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Women’s Journalism Hall of Fame, and the Omaha Press Club Hall of Fame. She also has been active in numerous groups particularly the Omaha Public Library.