You’re always busy. Between meetings, projects, and your everyday tasks. Finding the time and space to get creative isn’t always easy. So how do you hold brainstorms that cultivate better, more creative, and unique ideas?

Limit the Amount of Time

This works particularly well for people who thrive under the threat of a deadline. Having a limit to the time you can brainstorm only works though when everyone is ready and prepared for the meeting (more on that later). Time constraints can help you stay on task and help people to deliver their best ideas.

Get Some Goals

Before the brainstorm session, set some context and goals for the meeting. This doesn’t mean the morning of, either. Offer information a couple days before the session so that people are prepared and know what they are walking into.

Set goals as well. This will help people to enter the meeting and understand better what the scope and purpose of it is. This can help you avoid wasting time in the beginning catching everyone up.

Set Some Ground Rules

Open the meeting with some simple ground rules. Some ideas could be; there are no dumb ideas, you leave criticism at the door, leave your phones at your desk, write every idea down, etc. This gives the group a frame of mind and helps to avoid conflict or setbacks during the meeting.

Ask People to Come Prepared with Ideas

Sometimes great ideas don’t happen when you want them too. They may pop up in the car, shower, on a run. Any time you actually aren’t trying to come up with an idea. This is why it’s also a good idea to give people notice before a brainstorm session. By asking people to come prepared, you can start the meeting off with an idea and together you can make the idea stronger and better.

Leave Your “Normal” Space

Get out of the office. Maybe don’t have it in your conference room. Go to a coffee shop or a part of the office you don’t always sit in. If it’s nice, go outside. Getting out of your norm can help create new space and new ideas.

Cultivate an Environment Where Bad Ideas Are Okay

Let people speak freely and not feel dumb for doing so. So maybe call out that it wasn’t the best idea, but that it’s okay that person had the idea. That way you’ll get more ideas from everyone without the fear of being shut down. It will make your chances of landing on a good idea, better.

Be Prepared for Failure

Not everyone is a think on your feet kind of person. Or maybe they don’t enjoy in-person collaboration. It’s important to be respectful of that. Some people are better at brainstorms when they are digital. Sometimes people need space to think on their own. That way they can participate on their own time and contribute ideas when they are ready to. So create a shared Google Doc or use a software (we use Monday.com) to share and edit each others ideas.