The Benefits of Brainstorming
Our Executive Vice President and Chief Client Officer, Patricia Courtois, was recently interviewed by the Business Observer, where she gave her expertise about how to run an effective brainstorming session. We sat down with Patricia to find out more about her best practices and how she keeps the ideas flowing.
Why is brainstorming so important?
Patricia: I always think when people work together, you’re able to generate more ideas. The ideas are amplified when people can build on each other’s thoughts. The energy in a brainstorming session is a positive team-building effort, too.
What are your different approaches for brainstorming in a group versus brainstorming on your own?
In a group, it’s important to break up into smaller groups and condense the time because it forces people to think on their feet. Some ideas may not be fully cooked, but from that you can come up with a more developed idea that’s even better.
On your own, you have to rid yourself of distractions and that’s the biggest challenge. Set up a specific time for yourself to put down as many things as you can on paper and then go back to it. Let your ideas loose in a limited amount of time and don’t judge yourself. The more you limit yourself, the harder it is to stare at that blank piece of paper.
What’s the best brainstorming session you’ve ever had?
We had some amazing brainstorms when we were working on the launch of programming for The Mall at UTC. There were so many different retailers and unique partnership opportunities, which made it an exciting time to come up with promotions. We were thinking big. It’s important to remember you can always scale it back.
What advice do you have to make sure that a brainstorming session isn’t taken over by one person’s perspective?
I think it’s important to have a referee who can facilitate the discussion. You don’t have to be rude to anybody, but you can gently remind the group that everybody’s idea is worthy of attention. Everyone can have a chance to build on the ideas in a brainstorm, and this is not the time to say “that won’t work” or “that’s not good enough” about someone’s idea. It’s about taking the idea to the next level with positive feedback.
How do you want to expand on your brainstorming approach in the future?
I think helping people feel less intimidated by the process is the most important part of expanding our approach. Sometimes people are afraid their ideas aren’t worthy, but we’ve gotten some of the best ideas from people who were a little shy about offering their thoughts. Every idea is fertilizer for an even better idea down the road.