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Here’s how to brainstorm better in teams

Innovation starts with brainstorming about creative ideas. It is, therefore, crucial that your team, individually and as a whole, knows how to be inspired and how to inspire each other in a brainstorm session. However, remote working and online calls might hinder the efficiency of brainstorming. Thus, Dutch Startup Association shares 3 tips, tricks and techniques on how to brainstorm more effectively within your startup.  

#1: Structure your session

Structure is the key to any good brainstorming session. Therefore, it is important that you notify your team of how your brainstorming session will be structured. However, it is not only about the form of the session itself, but also about assigning tasks to members. For example, the roles of scribe, who notes the information, and a chair, who manages the time and leads the discussion. It is also crucial that prior to the brainstorming, clear and concise goals are set by the entire group, so everyone is aware of what they are working towards. A structured session will lead to a more optimal situation, in which individuals think better altogether and motivate and stimulate each other to create insightful concepts.

#2: Diverse domains, diverse ideation

There is no individual like any other. A diverse team could lead to a more insightful brainstorm session, as different knowledge domains and contacts are combined to create ideas which have a high potential. However, the diversity in knowledge and personalities could lead to conflict, evaluation apprehension (fear of being negatively evaluated by peers) or production blocking (only listening to others). It is, thus, important that everyone in the group is aware that the team is a collective of diverse individuals, which is beneficial for the entire team and the business as a whole. Moreover, the team should create a ‘safe space’ environment in which it is explicitly mentioned that everyone is allowed to express their opinions and make mistakes. Lastly, conflict management should be as timely as possible, thus, conflicts should be resolved immediately when they arise. 

#3: A suspending debate

There are various ways to structure your brainstorming process. However, research among team brainstorming has shown that a technique which worked well is the nominal group technique. An important component of this process is the silent idea generation: the process in which each individual silently generates their own ideas after problem discussion. This part takes around 10 minutes to complete and after ‘suspending the debate’, the ideas will be shared and discussed among the team members. Silently brainstorming has proven to predict more novel, diverse ideas and that this would work the best in teams where there is at least one extrovert member.

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