Brainstorming is a key activity in building any product. It evolves a concept into a series of ideas, and those ideas into the necessary vision to actually get started with the real work. It is a fundamental part of any business. Here are three tips on conducting brainstorming sessions:
1) Keep things visual. You have an idea, and while between two people it may be easy to be on the same page, it doesn’t always happen. So, if at all possible, draw, document, build, to make sure your vision is the same. This is probably the most valuable tip (hence it’s the first). Only if both want the same thing will things move it that direction.
2) Don’t be afraid of ideas. Any idea is a good starting point, and in a good brainstorming session, you want to get those out (again, into paper) as much as possible. You also want to have way too many, so we can weed out the worst ones afterwards. The reason why you don’t do it in the first place is because an evolution of a bad idea can be a tremendous idea. So, no ignoring ideas. No playing “devils advocate” – anything deserves attention.
3) Bring fresh people into the idea. Maybe this doesn’t need to happen on the first meeting, but you can easily “freeze” your creative juices if you don’t keep the drum going. Fresh views into your idea will be extremely valuable. Tell people what you’re thinking about, get them at a table, give everyone pens, and hack away at ideas. Seriously, combining the experience of people with their perception of your idea will generate great output.
4) It’s never early for a prototype. If you have an idea that needs to get out, a prototype may be the best solution. This doesn’t always work out well with web applications because you’re building things presented on flat screens, but why not build a prototyping toolbox with shapes and notes, so you can actually build a physical wireframe of what you’re trying to tell the rest of the brainstorming team?
Do you have tips on how to conduct successful brainstorming sessions? Share them in the comments! Top picture by faroekat, on Flickr.