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12 Brainstorm Rules Cheat Sheet by

Rules on having a Brain Storming Session
rules     brainstorm

1. Number of members and consti­tution of group

A minimum of 6 and a maximum of 12 people may partic­ipate in a brains­torming session. Less than 6 results in argument, more than 12 means that not everyone gets heard. It is recomm­ended that people from different discip­lines (speci­alists, genera­lists, the client, and outsiders unconn­ected to the problem) are included.

2. Duration

The session should last at least 3 hours (or a minimum of 1 hour for smaller projects).

3. Use of time

The facili­tator must plan out the 3 hour session, blocking out periods of time to the various areas that have to be covered, and ensuring that the group sticks to the plan.

4. Pre-se­ssion requir­ement

Facili­tator must initiate brains­torming 1-2 days before the actual session by circul­ating a memo with:
Location, time and date of the session
The subject of the session
A definition of the end result or product that is wanted
Any deadlines for end product or idea
Names of the partic­ipants and their special assigned tasks
Supporting background inform­ation
Explanation of rules for session
Recomm­ended that partic­ipants be encouraged to brainstorm alone for about an hour prior to the session, so that they can bring their own full crop of written ideas to the meeting. This is very productive in and of itself. Otherwise, in raw brains­torming sessions, ideas noted on the board or flip chart can lead or steer partic­ipants in a particular direction, losing track of possible altern­atives

5. Facili­tator's requir­ements during session

Be able to stand in front of group and commun­icate objectives clearly.
Keep the group's energy high and raise it if it fades
Control dominating partic­ipants and encourage shy members to join in too
Keep group on track and focused on productive objectives
Put aside personal ideas and views in favor of the group's ideas and input
Use different techniques to draw ideas from group
Keep meeting on schedule
Spot opport­unities that come up and are not picked up or developed by group
Make sure the scribe is capturing all ideas in writing
Squash all side-c­onv­ers­ations with "Just one meeting, please­!"
Act as policeman for the golden rule (see below)

6. Seating Arrang­ement (Face-­to-­Face)

Best to seat the group a circular fashion or around a rectan­gular 'meetings room' desk is fine, so that everyone can see each other. The facili­tator and scribe should sit on the side with the board/flip chart behind them

7. The Golden Rule: Defer Judgement.

All ideas are made welcome. Partic­ipants must agree not to laugh at or belittle any idea raised during a brain storm session.

8. Quantity, not quality

As a ancilliary point to the Golden Rule above, aim at quantity of ideas rather than quality. To this end, employ Caesar's military strategy he called celeritas - speed! High tempo fast generation of ideas helps keep the internal judge at bay and ensures that the golden rule is obeyed.

9. Encourage Active listening

Partic­ipants bring greater attention and awareness to the task and will get more inform­ation if they commit to "­Active Listen­ing­" to those who are presenting ideas at. See 12 rules of "­Eff­ective Listen­ing­".

10. Keep the Meeting on Track

The facili­tator must prevent the group from veering off into unprod­uctive areas and remain focused on the task at hand. He must guard against partic­ipants making judgements and watch out for "­veiled warfar­e" among the more dominant members.

11. Keep the group energized

If the meeting gets mired and sleepy, take a few minutes to get everyone to stretch and move around. Get some refres­hments to keep blood sugar levels stable. Blast out mental cobwebs with some creativity games, some energising music, a funny video or some jokes. Then re-start the session.

12. Summarise - agree - allocate

As the brainstorm session draws to a close, summarize what has been covered and where you are, obtain the partic­ipant's agreement on that and allocate tasks from the list of quality ideas that you have harvested from the session.

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