What Disrupts Effective Brainstorming?

Poor brainstorming sessions might be the result of a lack of energy, or sessions might have plenty of energy but are completely unproductive in creating good ideas. If your sessions are dull and unsuccessful the group might be suffering from any of the following conditions:

Poor focus. Ask yourself, "Is the task defined too narrowly or too broadly? Are the ideas being generated too superficial? Is anyone speaking on behalf of the client?"

A hidden agenda. Watch for team members who use brainstorming as a means of gaining a consensus for their ideas. You can recognize this strategy when someone leaps on a suggestion and immediately tries to shut down the discussion with a response like, "Great idea, let’s all explore it." A brainstorming session is meant to generate ideas, not decide on one right away.

Lack of team environment. This problem is more common when you’re using brainstorming to solve organizational problems. You can create a teamwork mentality by giving the group a clear, shared focus and providing a safe environment for members to speak their minds.

Same faces. Using the same people all the time can lead to stale brainstorming sessions. Mix up the group. You’ll get a revived energy level and a new set of ideas.

Low energy. When the brainstorming team loses its rhythm, the session feels like a stalled engine. Sometimes the energy peaks but then starts to sputter, and the group never gets anywhere. Perhaps one member’s actions or words tend to act like a stick in the spoke of a group’s progress, tripping everyone up. This is when a good facilitator should jump in, reinvigorate the energy level and manage the team’s participation.