When Behance recently interviewed the hyper-productive creative director of a leading agency, who will remain unnamed, he stressed the importance of “framing the right questions” when he kicks off a project with his team. Although it’s often overlooked, this is also a crucial task for any brainstorming session.
Since brainstorming, especially within a business setting, is frequently viewed as a moment to cut loose – a sort of creative free-for-all – the process is often under-managed and, as a result, unproductive. To truly maximize any idea generating session, adequate preparation and leadership is required.
Here are a few quick tips on how to get the most out of a brainstorming meeting, with the first step always being: Assign the person with the most relevant expertise to lead the meeting. Then:
- Research the topic. Roll up your sleeves and research the problem at hand – whatever it may be – and make sure you’re acquainted with previous successes and failures so that you can learn from them.
- Frame the questions. Based on the knowledge you’ve gathered, articulate the questions that you would like the brainstorming session to answer and use them as signposts to guide the group’s exploration.
- Prepare answers. In the best-case scenario, you won’t need to “answer” any of the questions, because your team will be enthusiastically kicking around ideas already. Worst-case scenario, you should have a few “Well, what if we…” answers at the ready for people to react to in case the creative juices aren’t flowing.
- Finish with action items. Once you’ve generated one or many possible solutions, make sure that you come away with a list of actionable to-dos to facilitate pushing the project forward, whether it’s garnering approval from higher-ups, completing additional research, or moving directly into an aspect of production.
***The Behance team researches productivity and leadership in the creative world. These entries are adapted and edited by Jocelyn K. Glei from the Behance team's past articles and research. Behance runs the Behance Creative Network, the Action Method project management application, the Creative Jobs List, and develops knowledge, products, and services that help creative professionals make ideas happen.