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Effective Brainstorming Strategies for Collaboration

From our weekly StorySpace sessions to a Slack that never sleeps, Sterling & Stone is a wonderland of brainstorming, where every voice is heard, every notion valued, and the collective imagination knows no bounds. 

Even the most whimsical whisper can evolve into the seed of a new idea for one of our storytellers to run with, proving that in unity, there is no limit to our potential. 

Here are 8 simple principles for running a collaborative brainstorming session: 
  • Specify the Problem: Start with a clear definition of the issue. Instead of vague statements like, “I’m not sure what happens in act two,” frame your challenge with precision, e.g., “I need ideas for navigating my protagonist through the antagonist’s lair to uncover a secret weapon.” Specificity gives your team a focused starting point.
  • Embrace All Ideas: Treat every suggestion as a stepping stone to innovation. Criticism or rejection can stifle creativity. Today’s outlandish idea could be tomorrow’s breakthrough. Encourage your team to share freely, without fear of judgment.
  • Use Silence and Questions Strategically: When discussions stall, allow a moment of silence to let ideas marinate. Then, move the session forward with a question or shift perspectives. Treat silence as the breath between ideas, the space where inspiration whispers the loudest.
  • Observe Your Collaborators’ Reactions: Pay close attention to non-verbal cues from your collaborators. An idea that sparks enthusiasm, no matter how impractical, might point you in the creative direction you’re seeking. Dive deeper into what resonates and don’t worry if the idea itself feels flawed.
  • Let Ideas Run Their Course: Resist the urge to redirect conversations prematurely, ahd let the group’s explore one trajectory fully before taking the discussion in a new direction.. Like a river carving through stone, ideas often find their strength in the journey, shaping landscapes of possibility over time.
  • Don’t Decide Right Away: Give yourself and your collaborators time to process ideas before choosing a direction. Often, the best insights emerge after the formal brainstorming has ended, allowing more reflective members of the group to mull over possibilities and synthesize or build on the group’s efforts. Great ideas, like fine wine, need time to mature, and patience is the crucible in which wisdom is forged.
  • Share Without Reservation: The fear of running out of ideas can hinder your willingness to share, but the more ideas you generate, the more ideas you become capable of generating.  In the act of sharing, we cast our bread upon the waters of imagination, only to see it return a thousandfold.
  • Detach from Outcomes: Not every idea will be adopted, and that’s okay. The goal is to find solutions that best fit the narrative or project at hand, recognizing that rejection isn’t personal. Detachment isn’t surrender, but an open door to new beginnings, where every no is a stepping stone to yes.

Following these principles as you run your brainstorming sessions will get the ideas flowing and keep them flowing, giving you creative momentum to generate bigger, better ideas.

See you next Wednesday!