Effective Brainstorming

Yesterday, I talked about mindmapping as a creativity technique. Today, I want to continue the conversation. Whether you are a blogger, an author, a small biz owner, a professional, a stay at home mom or dad, a coach, a consultant, and so on…there are many times when you will need to bring creativity to a project.

Here is what usually happens during brainstorming…someone starts a list and immediately begins the mind chatter of…”Oh that won’t work”…or “so and so tried it already”…etc. This prejudging really gets in the way of creative brainstorming. And often in teams, other team members will weigh in negatively on others’ ideas, which stifles the creative flow. Who wants to keep offering suggestions when every single one is shot down?  

The point of brainstorming is to come up with multiple ideas. So when you decide on a brainstorming session when you are by yourself, make sure you write fast and do not engage in any judgments or evaluations until you are done with your list. If you are brainstorming as a team, it is helpful to pass the pen around. Maybe have someone write down one idea, then pass the sheet of paper to the next person who writes down one idea. Write quickly.  Keep going for a set amount of time- maybe ten minutes. Set the rule that there is no talking during this process. Team brainstorming in this manner ensures that introverts are able to contribute equally. The overall project will benefit the most through everyone’s input.

When you get to the evaluation stage of the brainstormed ideas, don’t limit yourself to just the list, sometimes the list will inspire other ideas. Another common way that people engage in brainstorming that is not effective is that they automatically take the first list and everyone votes on which idea they like best. You still may not have the best idea or solution, so allowing expansion on the first run of brainstorming often generates more and even better ideas.

I would love to hear about your brainstorming techniques.


Sheri Kaye Hoff, MA, CGCL, Life Coach, Author, College Professor


4 thoughts on “Effective Brainstorming

  1. Love this topic and the ideas. I have used a similiar one where everyone gets a different colored sticky note pad. They write their ideas – one per sticky note – then they are posted to the wall and everyone gets to read, vote, etc.

    Thanks for sharing – your idea of passing the paper is great for rooms that don’t allow you to post your sticky notes on the walls!

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