Worship Media Arts

8 Rules for Team Brainstorming

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) 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 it’s hard to narrow down ideas and form consensus. Any less and it’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 “flatter” 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 “flat” 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 – the same exact group of people, meeting together regularly – 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 “have their back” 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.


2 Comments so far »

  1. John Marshall said,

    Wrote on February 9, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

    One thing I would add to that list is “use a voice memo”. Writing stuff down is what all of us do but none of us can write as fast as we can think. That is why I’m a huge fan of the Voice Memo feature on my smart phone. You just hit record and talk away your ideas. You’ll be amazed on how many more ideas you can come up with when you’re just talking without writing. After the group brainstorm is over, you can email or share the voice memo with the group so everyone has it. That is when you can go back and write down notes from the brainstorm.

    Hope this little tip helps out. The voice memo is a great thing for brainstorming.


    “Ask me about my attention deficit disorder or pie or my cat. A dog. I have a bike. Do you like tv? I saw a rock. Hi.”

  2. The MO Guys said,

    Wrote on February 9, 2012 @ 5:44 pm

    Good addition John. I use that a lot too.

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