Worksheet: Brainstorming

Taking the
Scary out of
Brainstorm Preparation

Have you ever had to lead a brainstorming session, but didn’t know where to start? No worries! We’ve compiled a handy worksheet for you that helps you prepare for any brainstorming session by concentrating on six key areas. Download the worksheet, or keep reading to learn more.

Objectives

Have a clear objective for what you want to get out of the session. For example, if you’re designing a course, your objective for the brainstorming session might be to come up with five different engaging page types and interactions.

Location

Where you hold the brainstorming session is more important than you might think. You don’t want to be crammed into a small room without enough seating, or somewhere where you can’t share ideas virtually or on a whiteboard or flip chart. Research shows that round tables are more conducive to collaboration and brainstorming than square or rectangular tables.

Materials

These materials add value during any brainstorming session:

  • A large whiteboard or flip charts
  • Post-It Notes of various sizes and colors (you can stick them on the whiteboard or flip charts and you can move them around easily)
  • Pens and paper for people to doodle and write notes
  • A tablet for drawing sacrificial sketches

People

Consider how many people will join the brainstorming session and who those people are. A sweet spot is 6-10 people. Too few people and you might not generate enough ideas. Too many people and it can be “too many cooks in the kitchen.” Get a range of people involved, including key stakeholders, creatives, technology specialists, copywriters, project managers, and designers.

Agenda

Like any other meeting, set an agenda before the brainstorming session. Start with how long your session is: One hour? Three hours? Then, break that down into what you want to accomplish. You’ll probably start with a project overview, unless everyone is already familiar with the project. Research shows that starting with individual brainstorming is ideal because it can avoid “group think,” so designate time at the beginning of the session for everyone to generate and record individual ideas. Then, you can jump right into sharing those ideas and brainstorming as a group. At the end of the session, have everyone come together to look at all the ideas, narrow them down, and debrief.

Rules

Every brainstorming session needs a set of rules. Feel free to borrow from these rules by IDEO.org and add your own rules!

  1. Defer judgement.
  2. Encourage wild ideas.
  3. Build on ideas of others.
  4. Stay focused.
  5. One conversation at a time.
  6. Be visual.
  7. Go for quantity.

And there you have it! Hopefully this exercise takes the “scary” out of preparing for a brainstorming session. If you haven’t already, download your worksheet to start preparing.

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