15 Ways To Turn Brainstorming Into Fire

"Talent wins the game, and the team championships." So once said Michael Jordan and was right. Any successful decision, whether it is a won championship or the release of a new product in an IT team, is achieved by the efforts of each individual person. Where does the team path to success begin?

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Remember the Latvian band Brainstorm with its popular hit Maybe from the beginning of the 2000s? A good group, but in this article - about another brainstorm. One that, with a quality approach, can become a constant hit in the workdays of your team and the beginning of great success and global results.

Brainstorming or brainstorming - This is an effective way to solve problems and current problems, based on stimulating the creative activity of team members. The goal of the brainstorming session is to generate as many ideas as possible and determine the best solution in various ways. Conventional brainstorming can be a turning point in the fate of a project or an entire product.

How often did the coolest and most profitable projects start on your team with a straightforward brainstorm? Should brainstorming be used as a systematic practice in the team’s working life? At the Hygger.io team , brainstorming sessions are not a must-have practice, but are held regularly. If you approach this process correctly, it will cease to be a waste of time.

What are the features of brainstorming in Agile teams?


In essence, brainstorming in an Agile team focuses on the same common goals as any other brainstorming. Differences in the team, where the participants are based on developers.
No need to confuse brainstorming and daily stand up.

Daily Stand Up (Daily Team Meetings) is an event that takes place in Kanban, Scrum, Extreme Programming or other teams in order to synchronize actions and discuss statuses for short-term tasks.

Stand Up should not turn into a brainstorming session because it has time limits set by product managers or project managers (most often, 10-15 minutes).

Brainstorming in Agile teams is a more thorough and detailed event with the specific goal of finding solutions.

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During a brainstorming discussion participants are invited to express as many options for resolving the issue. As a result of the practice, several solutions that are most acceptable for the problem are selected.

How to achieve effective brainstorming? 10 rules


Preparatory stage


Ideally, a brainstorming agenda should be announced in a few days so that participants and team members can prepare in advance. The moderator (in Agile teams this is most often the project manager or product manager) selects and notifies all participants, reports the location and time of the brainstorming. It is important for the moderator to understand who should be invited to do this. It depends on the topic: the content manager is unlikely to be useful in technical development issues, and the CEO of the company does not have to be present to discuss the concept of the site’s FAQ page. Although, each case is individual and there are exceptions to everything.

Example 1: Brainstorm on the introduction of an Android product application. The task is to get as far away as possible from competitors' applications. Project manager invites developers, designer, tester, support manager.

Example 2: A brainstorm on the participation of a SaaS product in an industry exhibition. The task is to develop the concept of the stand and related events for the release of a new product in the "burning" time frame. A marketer, a PR specialist, a designer, a financier, a logistician and a specialist dressed in procurement were invited to the discussion.


We present the problem correctly


A clear statement is important to all team members. It is necessary to designate the problem so that no further clarifications arise.

We set the right goals


Very often, the global outcome of a campaign depends on one goal statement. As the saying goes, how do you call a boat ... The more clear source data will be provided to each participant, the more effective will be a brainstorming session. There is no need to invent a bicycle here: set your goals, for example, according to the SMART principle .

Generate ideas


In fact, this is the most important stage at which, among dozens of options, real solutions to the problem are born. It should be a continuous stream of ideas, from the most commonplace to the fantastic. The more active the participants in the brainstorming session will be, the greater the chance of successful ideas.

Unload thoughts


Visualization is the first step in finding a solution to a problem. Having fixed the idea on paper or a monitor, you will quickly find a related idea or you can build a chain from an abstract idea to a specific solution. Draw illustrations, graphics, take advantage of Kanban with its card boards. All this will help to quickly find the right path.

Only constructive criticism


It is important to be able to not only listen, but also to hear. Do not interrupt the participants and give everyone the opportunity to speak out. Any, even the craziest idea, has a right to exist. Criticism during brainstorming can slow down or even offend.

Evaluate, classify, prioritize


After an active brainstorming session, the stage of evaluating and ranking ideas begins. It's time to remember about prioritization techniques and, if possible, use an accessible tool for determining priorities, which will quickly help visualize the most important and secondary ideas.

Even if the prioritization tool is designed for long-term plans and ideas, it can still be useful for short-term assistance. In the Backlog Priority Chart , which offers a platform for managing Hygger products , criteria are thought out for this:

  • Quick Wins - for high-priority ideas.
  • Big Bets - for ideas with high priority, but which can be completed a bit later.
  • Maybes - ideas with less value and urgency, they can be postponed.
  • Time sinks - ideas of the last priority.

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Call for help


If the discussion process has reached an impasse or the voices of the arguing have been shared equally, do not hesitate to call “fresh” heads.

Constantly moderated


The brainstorming coordinator should not leave the process for a minute. Some participants may be timid and not speak out on time. You need to follow the timing, ask leading questions and let everyone speak.

Do not be distracted, do not lose conclusions


It is very important to fix all thoughts so that later there is an opportunity to come back and analyze something again.

A brainstorming session can take place according to your rules, from timing to the selection of participants, or it can strictly obey the principles of one of the methodologies specifically designed for successful brainstorming.

5 popular brainstorming techniques and practices


Technique Stepladder


Stepladder (literally - a step-ladder) is a simple method that stimulates the entry of team members into a decision-making group and demonstrates how they do it.

Decision making within the group may not go smoothly. There are always more active participants and those who prefer to remain silent if his / her position does not gain the necessary weight.
Some people need a lot of time to fight for recognition within the team, and some gain credibility from the first minutes. Because of this, the course of the brainstorming may get out of control, and the team makes not the best decision.

The technique was developed by Stephen Rogelberg, Janet Barnes-Farrell and Charles Low in 1992. It motivates all team members to participate on an individual level, without undue influence. This leads to a wider variety of ideas, does not force people to "close" and excludes "suppression" by more active members of the group.

The technique involves 5 stages:

  1. Before the discussion, all participants will learn about the problem to be discussed. They need some time to form their own opinions on how to best accomplish a task or solve a problem.
  2. A group of two people is being formed. They begin a discussion of the problem among themselves.
  3. A third member is added to the group. He / she presents his ideas to the first two participants before hearing their ideas that have already been discussed. After all three participants have presented their individual solutions and ideas, they discuss options together.
  4. The process is repeated with the addition of a fourth person, etc.
  5. The final decision is reached after all participants have submitted their ideas in turn and discussed them with everyone.

The Stepladder method is a phased approach that involves all members of the group and allows everyone to be heard. Technique is useful for shy, modest, calm people to come to the fore and influence the opinions of others. To solve the problem - this is a lot of different points of view and individual proposals.

Delphi Method


This method is considered effective today for everyday life and for professional decisions, as it allows you to take into account the opinions of all people, using a consistent combination of proposals and conclusions. This is similar to Stapladder technology. But the approach to brainstorming is different here.

In the Delphi method, the group is managed by the coordinator, in the “Stapladder” method, all participants are equal.
The Delphi method assumes the anonymity of group members. The facilitator controls the flow of information, and participants may not know who else is in the group with them, while at Stapladder the meetings take place “face to face”.

The Delphic method is also considered to be a longer process, requiring more people.

Authors Olaf Halmer, Norman Dalky and Nicholas Resher developed the technique in the 50-60s of the XX century.

The participants are divided into two groups:

  • Experts who present their point of view on the problem.
  • Analysts who should bring expert opinions to a common denominator.

The technique involves three stages:

  • Preliminary , where the selection of an expert group takes place (optimally - up to 20 people).
  • The main one . At this stage, experts study the main issue, "break" it is not a few smaller ones. Analysts select the most common questions and compose a general questionnaire. The questionnaire is returned to experts. They should tell if there is anything else to add, if there is enough data. Experts need to offer their own solutions to the problem and explore alternative positions. Evaluates the effectiveness, availability of resources, the relevance of solutions. Analysts highlight the main opinions of experts and try to bring them closer. The steps are repeated until the experts reach consensus and a consensus is reached.
  • Analytical - coordination of expert opinions, analysis of the findings and final recommendations.


Technique for the development of ideas Round-Robin


Round-Robin is a variation of brainstorming where the principle of circular development of ideas is taken. This method does not take as much time as the previous ones. The more people in the team, the better. Such a brainstorming is best done at a large, preferably round, table.

The technique works like this:

  • There is a leader who voices the problem to those gathered.
  • Each participant writes their own decision on a piece of paper.
  • Record sheets are transferred clockwise to the next.
  • Each next should come up with his own idea on the basis of the written down and also write it down.
  • Sheets are transferred and rounds are repeated until each team member returns his sheet. As a result, each participant receives his own “bank of ideas”. The discussion begins.

Brainstorming method


Reverse Brainstorming (brainstorming, vice versa) for many teams becomes useful when more traditional techniques "obsolete" themselves. This is a radical way to increase the activity of the team and come to effective results from the opposite.

Reverse brainstorming is called a negative process. Instead of generating better ideas, participants are encouraged to “disrupt” the process or propose impossible goals. Adherents of the technique claim that negative thoughts float out so that the group gets useful information about what does not work and how.

The best way to imagine the brainstorming process is to compare it with a typical brainstorming.

Examples of key questions for brainstorming: How do we serve our customers so poorly that they leave us and leave our product? How can we guarantee that our product is harmful and useless?

This method can help when the team members “burned out” or the company “stalled”, when the team got used to the existing way of life and cannot leave the comfort zone, when some members of the group prevent others from expressing themselves in other cases.
Negative is always easier and faster to find than positive, and negative emotions provoke expressions. Therefore, a reverse brainstorming session can turn into an exciting event inside your team.

Rolestorming Technique


Rolestorming (role-playing brainstorming) may seem like a game or process suitable only for creative teams. But often, this technique allows you to go beyond the accepted and "get" completely new and fresh ideas by representing the problem on behalf of another person.

You can generate ideas on behalf of Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates or the Pope. Each participant describes his character and presents a problem and a possible solution from the point of view of the person being described. Ideas are discussed in a group.

What technique to choose?


To understand which of the methods suits your team only by testing each. Only by experience can you determine that brainstorming is not a waste of time, but a productive event. The question “why” should give way to the question “how”. Many results will depend on how you learn to brainstorm inside a team.

Try and share the practice!