Learning to brainstorm

Brainstorming whiteboard
Our Brainstorming whiteboard

We’ve recently had a whiteboard installed in our office conference room.  The purpose of the whiteboard is to jot down all the great ideas that my colleagues have and collect them in one place.  In an effort to get folks into the practice of brainstorming, my colleague, Sherri, taped two paper cups to the board and asked people to generate ideas for the use of the cups.  Anyone could put up any idea, combine ideas, and put up as many ideas as they wanted.  The primary rule of the exercise was that any sort of evaluation of the ideas was not allowed.  It’s been a fun exercise, and from the looks of the board, my colleagues had fun and generated some good ideas in the process.  What I’ve learned from the exercise is the importance of focusing the brainstorming sessions.  Sherri was able to direct our attention on the two paper cups, so our ideas were all relevant to each other.  While you don’t want to stifle creativity, the focus on one concept (the cups) was nice in keeping the ideas mostly related to each other.  It’s been a good exercise, and I’m sure we’ll continue to get even better at generating ideas.

What suggestions do you have for brainstorming?  I’ve you have an idea that really works for you or your group, please feel free to leave a comment.