10 Tips for Better Brainstorming*

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress;
working together is success. ― Henry Ford


When done properly, brainstorming sessions can be an enormously effective way to develop brilliant new ideas.When done improperly, they’re tedious and exasperating time wasters.

So let’s brainstorm about brainstorming.

1. Set a clear goal for what you are brainstorming: marketing ideas, generating new sales, reducing costs, etc.

2. Don’t schedule just one long day for brainstorming session. By 2pm everybody’s brains will be toast. Create a two-day schedule. The added benefit is that literally sleeping on ideas can help create terrific new ones.

3. Use this sample schedule:

DAY ONE: Brainstorm in the morning, before calls, before e-mails. Have coffee, and maybe fruit, but no baked goods since they put most people into carb comas. End at lunch.

Day TWO: cater a healthy lunch and start during the lunch. Go for 3 hours MAX. This gives people who are better later in the day a chance to voice their opinions, and you’ll get a chance to hear fresh ideas that emerged overnight.

4. Adhere to the two rules of brainstorming:

RULE #1 – There are no bad ideas.

RULE #2 – See Rule #1.

5. Divide your ideas into three parts. Use whiteboards, digital files, word docs, whatever works for your people. They just need to be able to see everything

“Yes, AND” Board: Based on theatre improvisation. This area is for the best ideas. Leave space under each idea for the “and” (additional ideas to add).

“Yes, BUT” Board: Ideas that are good but need work.

“Maybe, BUT” Board: There are no “no’s” in brainstorming. Everything gets written down. If you have Negative Nellies, remind them of Rule #1 as many times as necessary.

6. Schedule a moderator (someone organized and efficient) and a note taker. (someone with neat handwriting or fast typing skills)

7. In large companies, schedule each department for their own, separate brainstorm session. More than 12 people in a session gets too crazy.

8. Record the sessions. This helps in case something falls through the cracks and gives you something to refer to later if needed.

9. Boil all final ideas down to a one-sheet punch list. This sheet should give defined tasks with deadlines to specific people/groups. Send this out to each member of the session.

10. Schedule a follow-up meeting and use the punch list for accountability.

For more information:


*Guest post by Jeff Zampino, owner of Type Monkeys, a video and graphic design company.