How to Brainstorm effectively?

How to Brainstorm effectively?


Brainstorming was developed in 1939 by Alex Osborn in the advertising industry and it is practised in groups, ideally of 4 to 10 people. It is a fun tool that stimulates the imagination and allows each member to express themselves without judgment on a given issue.


Brainstorming has three steps.

1. Preparation

This part is the responsibility of the brainstorming facilitator, whose role is to :

  • Select the participants: the more the participants have different expertise, the richer the brainstorming session will be.
  • Organise the session (time, place)
  • Set the rules, assign roles and manage time
  • Formulate the problem in the form of a question
  • Facilitate everyone's participation and refocus if necessary

The facilitator assigns the role of secretary to one of the participants; this person's mission is to take note of all the ideas put forward by the group during the production phase: no censorship!

2. The production of ideas

The objective of this step is not to find good ideas but to find as many as possible.

The facilitator states the problem and then gives the following rules:

  • Everyone expresses themselves freely, spontaneously and one after the other
  • We let ourselves be inspired and we bounce off the ideas of others
  • No discussion, no judging, no analysis

The facilitator can restart the process by inviting participants to come up with more "crazy" ideas.

Variant: The facilitator can restart the process by inviting participants to come up with "crazier" ideas.

3. Exploiting the ideas

This is the stage where the secretary reads over the ideas noted down. This is also the time to clarify the most abstract ideas. Next, the facilitator, with the group, classifies and prioritises the ideas in a synthetic form in order to identify solutions. To determine the best solutions, it is possible to use a decision grid or simply vote.

Some tools to catalyse your brainstorming sessions

The group alliance

Creating a group alliance consists of establishing a bond of trust between its members, defining the desired work atmosphere and creating co-responsibility between group members. For the brainstorming facilitator, the alliance is key. It creates the ideal environment to stimulate the collective intelligence and creativity of the group.

The "Yes, and..." approach The "yes, and..." approach is initially a technique of improvisational theatre: always accept what the other person proposes and build on this basis a continuation of the improvised story. The systematic use of "yes, and..." in brainstorming (as opposed to "no" or "yes, but...") makes it possible to be constantly open to the ideas of others and to build on them to enrich them.

The GROW model

GROW, for Goal, Reality, Options and Will, is a simple and effective model for facilitating a Brainstorming session. Developed by Sir John Whitmore and his partners, it allows you to quickly set collective objectives and propose solutions.