- Invite stakeholders that are representatives from each discipline that is relevant (design, product, engineering, etc)
- Assign a facilitator that is neutral to act as the scribe and decision-maker
- Choose a spot that the team doesn’t regularly use for meetings. Be sure to have a big blank wall where you can place post-it notes from your brainstorming session
- Consider one hour for a micro-session, three to four hours for a medium-sized discussion, and a full day for a larger project
(if this is a virtual meeting try to use online tools to mimic the post-it notes)
- Chart paper
- Post-it notes
- Dot stickers
Break the Ice
Tell me a story about… What did you want to be when you were younger... Where do you want to go on holiday and why? etc.
To make sure your session remains focused, you should begin with a question. What specifically are you trying to solve?
- How can we get people to perform X specific action?
- What would lead to increased conversion on X client’s site?
- How can we achieve X result?
Establish rules for the session
- No idea is stupid
- Postpone criticism. Feel free to ask clarification questions, but wait until the team decides whether to dig into that particular idea to provide any constructive feedback
- Don't focus on the solution in the early stages of the brainstorm — just focus on the problem
- You don’t need to raise your hand to speak, but make sure you’re not cutting anyone off
- No phones or laptops
A great way to encourage everyone to speak up and to mitigate groupthink is to begin with silence: a solo brainstorm where each individual writes down all of their ideas on post-it notes. This should only last a few minutes. Be sure to use a timer to make sure you stay on track. As people are jotting down their ideas, the facilitator can begin to collect those post-its and start grouping them into themes and concepts onto the whiteboard or blank wall.
After the initial brainstorming session, it’s often useful to have small, circular colored stickers so that people can vote on their preferred ideas. Consider giving each person a maximum of two stickers (or “votes”) per brainstorming sprint, and dole them out accordingly.
The facilitator should paraphrase and synthesize as many of the points as possible to make sure everyone is following.
When the top ideas have been voted upon, it’s time to decide how to take action. Here are two questions the group should determine before leaving the room:
- What is our deadline? This will vary greatly depending on the scope of the project. It could range from next week to the end of the year. Make sure you choose an ambitious, but achievable, timeframe
- Who will own this? It could be that the Project Manager will take ownership of each of these line items, but cross-collaboration between teams means there could be multiple stakeholders for each item