How to: Better brainstorming with private collection

Most brainstorming exercises are acts of “public collection” of data. We put a question on the board and ask everyone attending our meeting for ideas.

Brainstorming, when done well, can be a really fun and energizing exercise. But, it turns out that brainstorming is rarely done well. A small minority of people tend to dominate air time and the shy folks stay out of the discussion altogether.

A simple tweak that helps brainstorming is “private collection.” This involves giving everyone in the room post its or pieces of paper, a few minutes of time and encouragement to write down their ideas.

As a moderator, when you open up the floor for brainstorming, you know for sure that everyone has ideas. So, you can now facilitate the discussion to ensure everyone’s participation.

Brainstorming sessions succeed because of the diversity of ideas on show. Diversity, in turn, can be encouraged by good session design.