Before you start brainstorming, there are a few rules that will ensure that the process is most effective.
- Use sticky notes. Write one idea or suggestion on each sticky note. This will provide for maximum flexibility when looking for commonalities between ideas and eliminating less effective suggestions. For ideas on using sticky notes, download Secrets of a Sticky Note Ninja.
- Focus on quantity. The basic idea behind brainstorming is that multiple solutions are generated, regardless of quality. Once several ideas are generated, they can be evaluated for applicability or effectiveness.
- Don't criticize or censor. During the brainstorming process, you should not criticize or evaluate any idea that is generated. An atmosphere of openness is essential for coming up with several possible solutions.
- All ideas should be considered. Although more creative ideas may not be the best solutions, often creative suggestions can spark other suggestions that will be effective.
- Combine and improve ideas. Once several ideas have been collected, place similar ideas together and take the best components of each solution.
- Give a time limit. Working under pressure will encourage you to stay focused.
- Write down your responses. The most effective way to work through this process is to write down each and every idea. Your memory can only retain a limited number of items in short-term memory and hopefully you will generate more ideas than your memory can retain. Additionally, mental brainstorming does not lend itself to sorting and arrange ideas that have been generated.