Brainstorming seems like a pretty straight-forward task, right? You get a bunch of people in a room, throw some ideas around and boom – you’ve suddenly solved all your problems. In theory, it sounds great. In practice, it’s all too easy to get your best and brightest together and somehow wind up more confused about a problem than you were before you started.

Our switch to teams has given us a lot of experience with brainstorming, cardstorming and a dozen other collaborative techniques. Today, we want to share those experiences with you. If you’re looking for a no-frills guide to brainstorming, let Noodles & Doodles show you the way.

Transcript below:

[Brittney Sheffield]: Hi everyone, my name is Brittney, and I’m a marketing strategist at 352, and today I’m going to be talking to you about Brainstorming 101.
So the first thing you need to do whether you’re just brainstorming on your own or with a team is to eliminate a few words from your vocabulary: the words can’t, don’t and but are not allowed when you’re brainstorming.
It’s really important to keep things positive to keep ideas flowing freely.
The next they might want to do if your team isn’t really seasoned at brainstorming is to establish a moderator. A moderator will really help you politely and tactfully tell someone who’s may be speaking up a little too much to pipe down a bit. It’ll also help people who are not speaking quite as much to really speak out and let everyone know what they’re thinking.
The next thing you need to do is make sure you have all the right supplies. So here, you’re going to want plenty of things to write with, whether these are pens or pencils or markers. You’re also going to want things to write on. So, sticky notes or my personal favor is a whiteboard. It’s really easy for everyone in the room to see and for everyone to keep on the same page. And you’ll also want snacks just in case your meeting runs long, or you may be running into lunch or late in the day:  you don’t want cranky people in your brainstorming session.
And finally, every once in a while at 352 you’ll see a few of us cracking open a beer before we start brainstorming session. Believe it or not – this may be a little bit of an unconventional take on brainstorming – but alcohol relaxes your mind and helps you to think more freely whenever you’re brainstorming.
So once you have all your supplies, you’re going to want to start the conversation. Once you get started talking to everyone in your brainstorming group, you may need to kind of plant the seed, get the conversation going before everyone else chimes and give them some time to think about what you’re talking about.
If you’re afraid that people won’t start talking at the beginning your session, you may want to give them the idea or the topics that you’re going to be talking about before you even enter the room.
Also it’s important whenever you’re talking as a group to call out the really great ideas and get everyone else to marinate on it and maybe tweak it to make it a fantastic idea. It’s also good to point out the ideas that are a little bit more of an “Eh” idea so people can put in their input and make the idea even better.
So there’s no such thing as a bad idea, but it is great to kind of help people get to an even better place with the thoughts they’re having in a brainstorming session.
The next thing you’re going to want to do is write everything down, which is why a whiteboard is just so fantastic. If someone brings something up that was discussed an hour ago it can help you keep your group from becoming a little bit  redundant, but it can also help you reference great ideas previous and maybe call-back to some of them in case you have something great add to it.
Next you’re going to want to determine the next steps. So whether this is more brainstorming, creating a plan or executing an idea, you want to make sure you follow up because the worst thing in the world is to go to a brainstorming session and for nothing to come out of it. So you want to make sure that it’s a fruitful endeavor that you’re partaking when you’re brainstorming.
And lastly, you want to continue the conversation. Who says that a brainstorming session has to be planned? So, if you have tools like Skype or anything else that your company uses to communicate internally, make it part of your culture to continually think of good ideas. That way the conversation always continues, and you’re not just waiting for a meeting to come up with a new great idea for your company.
Thanks for watching, and I hope you learned a little bit from Brainstorming 101.


352 is an innovation and growth firm. Leading companies hire us to find billion-dollar opportunities, build killer new products and create hockey-stick growth. We bring grit and new-fashioned thinking to innovation, digital development and growth marketing.