Brainstorm (noun):  A time during which multiple participants throw around a flurry of ideas in hopes of lassoing a genius solution for a mutually burdensome issue. Sessions can consistent of few or many contributors and end in one of two ways: the problem is solved or a bigger issue is created. In order to conduct an effective brainstorm session, follow these tips to achieve the most productive results:

1. Assign a Facilitator: Have the leader takes notes on a large piece of paper or white board. Ideas are more easily deciphered when the group can visualize them together.

2. Lay Down the Law: Establish ground rules before beginning your brainstorm session. Agree to suspend criticism in an effort to collect as many ideas as possible. Remember, quantity trumps quality in the initial stages. Refrain from evaluating singular solutions, as this will waste time that can be well spent formulating new ideas.

3. Pose a Question: The Facilitator should pose a simple question to the group to open the brainstorm session. Allow participants to throw out short answers to get the conversation started. Move on to the more complex questions and don’t be afraid to build on others’ ideas.

4. Play Word Games: Having a hard time getting thoughts flowing? Create a list of words and then find the commonalities between each of them. This technique works well for branding initiatives. Start with a single word and create multiple lists with varieties of associations. Then, creatively link the words from the different lists together to help formulate a slogan or catch phrase.

In the end, a structured and facilitated brainstorm will lead to a more productive meeting with a plethora of creative options. Try implementing these suggested tactics during your next brainstorm session to see what ideas your team can formulate given proper direction.

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