When innovating with your team, there are a few rules that are important regardless of the ideation session you’re conducting. In this article, we’ll outline the four golden rules of brainstorming and talk about how following them can improve your team’s innovative capabilities.

Rule #1: Every Idea Matters

One of the critical aspects of a successful brainstorming session is everyone feeling comfortable sharing their ideas. This means that no voice reigns supreme over the others, and no ideas are shot down before they’re proposed.

This is easy to say but often hard to implement—a brainstorming environment, both digital and in-person, can be overwhelming and judgmental at times. To ensure that every possible idea is successfully proposed rather than getting stuck in someone’s mind, people need to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts.

One creative way to do this is through incognito collaboration. This is a feature on digital whiteboards where, for the allotted time, people can only see their own notes. This means for the duration of the exercise, they can share ideas without feeling the judgment of someone who might disagree, and can remain more open to their own crazy inspirations.

After the exercise is done, there will be time to review the contributions, and the group is able to come to a conclusion based on what ideas have the most potential.

Rule #2: No Note Left Behind

One of the difficulties that occurs with brainstorming is that there can be so many good ideas, but only a limited amount of time and space to record them. In this case, it can be common to lose ideas that were supposed to be recorded or remembered.

The solution is simple and effective: document every single idea that’s discussed.

Using an online whiteboard is a great way to ensure that all ideas are documented and tracked properly, and that none of them fall through the cracks. Virtual whiteboards live in digital permanence, so there’s no worry of the marker getting erased or the notes being deleted.

Even if an idea doesn’t have tangible value to the end goal, it can still help provide necessary context to the ideas around it and to the meeting at large. This way, regardless of the importance of a note or the outcome of a meeting, everything will be saved on the board.

Rule #3: Embrace New Techniques

Part of brainstorming is experimenting with what is most effective for your team—and with the emergence of remote brainstorming, there are many new exercises that teams can conduct to find new ideation methods.

One potential solution is a hybrid brainstorming model, where people blend individual and group ideation to facilitate a holistic brainstorming experience. This ensures that people feel independent with their creative freedom and have space to share their ideas while also allowing multiple perspectives to integrate into the greater group context.

Online whiteboards make this hybrid model possible by facilitating both synchronous and asynchronous collaboration. Because the board is permanently saved online, you can access it at any time and from anywhere, allowing people to contribute asynchronously to the board before or after the group session.

Once the ideas are ready, everyone can gather on that same board and gauge everyone else’s contributions and come to a shared conclusion about the best option.

Embracing new brainstorming methods, including asynchronous collaboration, is something that is vital when moving forward and helps everyone approach innovation with an open mind.

Rule #4: Innovate Your Process

Innovation is not strictly applied to ideation but can also influence the process that teams use to brainstorm.

One of the most important things an innovative mindset can bring to a brainstorming session is simply changing the structure that your exercise is conducted within. This could be using a specific template to ideate, changing your meeting schedule, or conducting more design thinking exercises rather than text-based brainstorming.

By innovating the framework you work under you can begin to perfect an efficient workflow for your brainstorming exercises.

Whether you’re brainstorming some ideas for a project or are trying to radically shift the structure of your team, sticking to these four golden rules of brainstorming will help you get there in the most effective way possible.

About the Author

Paul Van Zandt is the founder of Fresco, a startup enabling real-time collaboration for people everywhere. Fresco allows you to collaborate with your team on an incredibly simple interface customize your workspace, and save all of your changes online in digital permanence. If you liked this article, make sure you check out Fresco to see how you can begin utilizing a futuristic brainstorming method.

Featured image via Unsplash.