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In my experience the key to good brainstorming is preparation. Definitely there are different types of brainstorming sessions, and the outcome of a brainstorming workshop is far from guaranteed. The key things for a good brainstorming workshop, from my experience, are: 1. Firstly understanding of the two levels at which activity occurs in a brainstorming workshop, which are: - Process level, and - Content level 2. Good facilitation. A person to lead the process and challenge/document/review the content. Usually not a direct stakeholder in the outcome. 3. Pre-planned exercises/sessions within the workshop that break the session in to chunks, using specific techniques for each session. Exercises are loosely aimed at encouraging the generation of pre-agreed outcomes from the session, such as: - A list of ideas on a particular topic - A set of deliverables definitions for a project plan - Ideas for a company logo or tagline - A group-crafted mission statement for a company or project - Principals or values to be used by a project team 4. High quality inputs - what I call brain-food, which are designed to stimulate thinking and interaction. Inputs can be designed for the session as a whole or for one or more of the activities. 5. Linked exercises within a workshop or a workshop linked to a following workshop. Most powerfully brainstorming exercises can be linked from one to the next using outputs to fuel the next topic. This structure might seem at face-value to be counter to the idea that brainstorming is free-format, but a total "blank page" as a starting point for brainstorming is almost guaranteed to fizzle.
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Aug 24, 2010