Where do great ideas come from? The answer is quite simple- brainstorming. Whether working alone, or with a group of other creative teammates, great ideas often start with brainstorms.
Here are 8 rules for group brainstorming from my book (co-authored with Len Wilson)Â Taking Flight with Creativity: Worship Design Teams that Work.
1.) Keep the brainstorming team small
It is important to keep brainstorming groups at a relatively small size. Studies have shown that the most effective brainstorming groups consist of around 4 to 7 people. Any more than that and itâ€™s hard to narrow down ideas and form consensus. Any less and itâ€™s hard to have enough minds focused to generate good ideas.
2.) Even the playing field
The best creative groups find a way to check hierarchical structure at the door. No one wants to look bad in the eyes of their superiors, and brainstorming (from an ego standpoint) can be pretty risky. Creativity flows much easier when each member feels the same amount of authority to express and give input on ideas being discussed. The â€śflatterâ€ť the team feels organizationally, the better the brainstorming will be.
It may not be possible to organize staff positions in such a way that everyone is â€śflatâ€ť outside the meeting, but position and supervisory issues should be deemphasized during the brainstorming meeting.
3.) Keep the group closed
As stated, brainstorming can be risky business that encourages team members to expose their ideas, and themselves, to both praise and honest criticism. In our experience, the best balm for criticism is trust. A closed team â€“ the same exact group of people, meeting together regularly â€“ can build up enough trust and small group intimacy to allow honest critique to thrive without bruising egos too badly.
Once a closed group has learned to brainstorm together, a level of comfort begins to set in that makes the creative process second nature. When this point is reached, each team member will feel that the others in the room â€śhave their backâ€ť and can begin to name ideas that would have otherwise remained unspoken inner thoughts.
Groups with creative honesty, if achieved, need to be protected with the utmost care. Adding just one new person to the group can change the dynamics in such a way that it makes brainstorming labored or even impossible.