A good brainstorming session has ideas flying all over the place. Sometimes it's tough to keep up while writing gems down. Everyone is contributing, jumping in as soon as someone else finishes, and talking as fast as possible. Unfortunately, most sessions aren't like this.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and a brainstorm session is only as good as its leader. To help us make sure we're good leaders, the Heart of Innovation blog over at IdeaChampions lists ten traits of a good brainstorm leader. Here are my four favorites:
Number one on their list is to be a brainstorm leader, you must be a conductor. A lot of times there are multiple personalities and multiple disciplines in the room and you have to be able to manage the ebb and flow between them. Not to mention keeping the whole idea-train on track.
A big part of a good brainstorm is wading through the okay ideas to get to the gems. And even then, a leader needs to be a good gem cutter. Even the best ideas don't emerge fully polished and ready to go. No, they must be cut and shaped to fit exactly what is needed and what the goals are.
With all the chaos of a brainstorm, there still must be order. It's your job as officer of the law – or as I call it: sergeant-at-arms - to keep the peace. This could be as easy as being a traffic cop for whose turn it is to speak, or even stepping in to halt an argument of opposing ideas.
Number four is important - even if it's last on the Idea Champions list. You have to be a stand-up comic of sorts when leading a brainstorm. When people share their ideas, even ones they just came up with, they invest parts of themselves. Egos can be bruised, feelings hurt, and tempers flared. But that's where humor comes in. You can defuse tense situations and keep things light - and moving - with a little humor here and there.
Those are my four favorites of Idea Champion's list of ten. Head over there and check out their list then come back here and leave a comment with your favorites and any other roles you know of necessary to lead a good brainstorming session.
Posted by George Page, Communication Specialist