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Brainstorming Rules Every Team Should Know

Updated on: 21 September 2023 | 4 min read
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While everyone is familiar with the concept of brainstorming, brainstorming running an actual brainstorming session can be as challenging as any other traditional meeting. That’s where brainstorming rules come in. They serve as guidelines to make brainstorming work smoother. And establishing a set of ground rules can help you overcome these challenges more effectively.

These brainstorming rules may not be necessary for every brainstorming session, but they can significantly improve the process by setting expectations, improving team dynamics, and creating a comfortable environment.

What are Brainstorming Rules

Brainstorming rules are a set of specific instructions and principles that participants are expected to follow during a brainstorming session to ensure its effectiveness. These rules help create a structured and productive environment for idea generation.

Here’s why ground rules are valuable in brainstorming

  • Team cohesion: Establishing rules promotes teamwork and collaboration. When everyone knows the guidelines, they can work together more effectively to generate and develop ideas.

  • Comfort and participation: Having ground rules can make participants feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts. It reduces the fear of judgment and encourages open dialogue.

  • Customization: Depending on the specific needs of your group or the nature of the brainstorming topic, you can tailor the rules to suit the situation. Flexibility is key.

  • Improved effectiveness: They help make things clearer, promote teamwork, encourage everyone to join in, and you can customize them to your liking.

13 Ground Rules for Better Brainstorming

Here are some common brainstorming rules that can boost the quality of your next brainstorming session.

  1. No criticism: Make sure participants don’t criticize each other during idea generation. All ideas should be welcomed and considered without evaluation. This encourages a free flow of creativity and participants don’t feel discouraged.

  2. Quantity over quality: Generate a lot of ideas that you can refine and evaluate later. Quantity often leads to more creative solutions, and participants should be encouraged to think freely and broadly.

  3. Build upon ideas: Instead of dismissing or criticizing ideas, encourage participants to build upon them or combine them with others. This creates a collaborative atmosphere where ideas can improve through the contributions of multiple team members. It also encourages people to actively listen to others.

  4. Stay on topic: Keeping the discussion focused on the session’s objective is important to achieve meaningful results. If the conversation drifts off-topic, it can waste time. Gently steer the conversation back to the main goal whenever necessary.

  5. Time limit: Set a specific time limit for the brainstorming session to keep it focused and prevent it from dragging on too long. Shorter sessions can be more productive as they encourage participants to think quickly and stay engaged.

  6. Diverse participation: Encourage all participants to contribute. Make sure that quieter team members have an opportunity to share their ideas, and prevent any one person from dominating the conversation.

  7. One conversation at a time: Keep side conversations and interruptions to a minimum so the discussion runs smoothly. Everyone should have a chance to speak without being interrupted.

  8. Record ideas: Assign someone to record all the ideas shared during the session. This makes sure that no ideas are lost and allows for later review and refinement.

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Use the brainstorming board to record and organize ideas shared by the team
  1. No technology distractions: Devices like phones and laptops can be distracting during brainstorming sessions. Suggesting to put away devices or use them only for note-taking can help maintain focus on the task at hand.

  2. Positive language: Using positive and constructive language helps create a supportive environment. Instead of saying “That won’t work,” participants can say, “What if we modified this idea to make it more feasible?” This approach encourages idea development.

  3. Stay open-minded: Participants should be open to exploring even seemingly wild or unconventional ideas. Creativity often thrives when people are willing to step outside their comfort zones and consider new possibilities.

  4. Time for reflection: Let participants reflect on the ideas after the brainstorming session. This can lead to further insights and improvements as individuals think more deeply about the ideas presented.

  5. Follow-up plan: Decide on a plan for what will happen with the ideas generated during the session. Will they be further developed, prioritized, or implemented? Assign responsibilities for next steps to ensure that the brainstorming session leads to actionable outcomes.

Remember that not all sessions will require every brainstorming rule, and you can adapt them to suit the specific goals and dynamics of your team. Ground rules should be established and agreed upon by all participants at the beginning of each brainstorming session to create a comfortable and productive environment for generating creative ideas.

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Amanda Athuraliya
Amanda Athuraliya Communications Specialist

Amanda Athuraliya is the communication specialist/content writer at Creately, online diagramming and collaboration tool. She is an avid reader, a budding writer and a passionate researcher who loves to write about all kinds of topics.

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