The phrase, “there are no bad ideas”, or something similar is often one of the first rules of brainstorming. And an incredibly important one it is. People shouldn’t hold back with ideas. I have a “the more the better” approach when it comes to brainstorms.
But, there is a watch out to this approach.
Giving people free reign to blurt out absolutely any idea is great at giving people the freedom to contribute, but that is quickly undone if one or two participants start dominating the session by reeling off a stream of consciousness with little or no thought. It stifles your brainstorm by not giving anyone else a chance to have their say.
It’s important to structure brainstorms in a way that allows, or even forces, everyone to make a contribution. I recently participated in a brainstorm that used a method in which we went around the room and everyone had to suggest an idea and we could only move on to the next person once the group had provided builds on that idea. A really nice way of giving everyone a voice.
Brainstorms, in the first instance, should be about quantity over quality but it is equally important to get a diverse mix of ideas from different people with different perspectives.
I have a section on this blog dedicated to brainstorm techniques which I am slowly populating. Please feel free to use.