The Truth About Brainstorming Meetings

Wherein Behance cofounder Scott Belsky and Fast Company cover man Baratunde Thurston discuss (okay, rant about) how creativity really happens. Solo artists, today's your lucky day.

In a reminder that "what happens at SXSW definitely does not stay at SXSW," Fast Company captured part of a conversation I had with Behance cofounder Scott Belsky and has posted the high-quality surveillance footage here on the Internet for your viewing pleasure.

In the video, I politely rant about inefficiencies in the group brainstorming process and outline some key elements for doing it better.

We often limit the quality of our group brainstorming by allowing personality types and groupthink to have undue influence too early in the process. Encouraging people to think on their own first can help increase the quality of ideas submitted and reduce the outsized influence of heavy talkers like yours truly.

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  • Richard B

    Technique I always use:

    1) Tell the people attending the meeting the purpose of it
    2) Tell them where and when and expectations (x amount of ideas for example)
    3) At the meeting let everyone else put forward their ideas first
    4) If you know the team well, get the quieter ones to go first
    5) Questions are asked after the ideas are put forward
    6) Post meeting, thank everyone and summarise the meeting & what's up next

    And don't have meetings for meeting's sakes!

  • laude05

    Brainstorming meeting. Meeting's always have an agenda. Publish the agenda and people come prepared (usually). Prepared to discuss the problem you outlined in your Brainstorming Meeting Agenda. This presupposes that you don't have enough pointless meetings that your people ignore the agenda as just one more in a long line of pointless meetings. It also presumes that your people aren't so overloaded that they don't have time to put their feet up on their desk and just think about what if.

  • Cari Turley

    Hear, hear! The most effective brainstorming I've ever participated in required everyone to come up with their 10 best ideas on their own, then bring them to the meeting. It had all the benefits of collaboration, while not letting the quieter members of the group get drowned out (or allowing them to hide in the background).

  • Michael Zroback

    The effectiveness of group brainstorming can be very effective if the facilitator uses the participatory techniques developed by the Institute for Cultural Affairs. Their Technologies of Participation techniques are simply the best!