How to Run an Effective Brainstorm Session: Your Questions Answered

By: Caitlin Matsen  | 08/21/2019


Brainstorm sessions allow organizations to maintain fresh ideas, encourage team collaboration, and establish a setting for productive problem-solving. The brainstorming process, however, can often be challenging to get started and without the right questions being asked, can lead to time being spent ineffectively.

We hosted a webinar, led by our very own Craig Minch, Director of Creative Services, and Kate Penrod, SR. Visual Designer, breaking down the crucial elements needed for an effective brainstorm. Below are the answers to the questions asked in the webinar.

 

How many people are ideal in a brainstorm session? 

Kate: You don’t want too many people in a session, but you also don’t want only 3 people. Having around 5 people is a good number.

Craig: Agreed, I would say having 4-5 people in a session is ideal. Sometimes having too many people can make it hard to keep the session productive. You want people to feel like they have the opportunity to speak and not have people talking over each other. I would say the max amount you would want in a session is 7 people.

 

How can you convince stakeholders that brainstorms are important?

Kate: Holding brainstorm sessions can lead to better outcomes for the problems you are trying to solve. When only one person is thinking of all the ideas, things will start to be the same and feel a little cookie-cutter. When you hold brainstorms and involve other people who haven’t been on the project or client in the past, it can lead to innovation.

Craig: Agreed, brainstorms are a good way to generate new ideas and new options we haven’t seen before. If we want to innovate, present new ideas, and show our capabilities, a brainstorm is a great way to come up with those ideas.

Kate: Brainstorms also don’t have to be just for creative-based or design-based solutions, instead there can be ideas generated also for marketing solutions, for example. The brainstorm can be used to determine how to market to and target users or discover if a company’s persona audiences are right.

 

Do you include clients in brainstorms? If not, how much info do you gather from them beforehand? 

Kate: I really love brainstorms with clients. You always get such great insight from having clients in brainstorms, as they are coming with the expertise of their company and knowledge of the main problem being solved. It is also a great way to involve the client in the solution.

Craig: We have conducted brainstorms with clients. It’s really a minimal investment of time to prepare a point of view and questions to keep the session going, but the time and energy of the participants is what creates the value of the session. If you can collaborate and brainstorm with clients and customers, you can forge relationships that will last a long time. For gathering info from clients beforehand, you just need enough to inform the point of view you’re writing. There is likely a Q&A before crafting that point of view, and then you will want to collaborate and share that point of view with the client before the brainstorm session to ensure alignment.

 

Thank you to Kate and Craig for a great webinar! To listen to the webinar on-demand, click here.

 


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