Training Nuggets: This is one of the PowerPoint information presentations in a series of “training nuggets” designed for US Navy Community Support Program (F&FR) employees, supervisors and managers. This one is intended for new supervisors and managers and anyone involved in “brainstorming” sessions. This presentation outlines the basics of conducting a brainstorming session. The quality of “team-generated ideas” is dependent on numerous factors, including: • How well the brainstorming meeting is facilitated • The energy and focus of the participants, and • The environment in which the meeting is conducted Designer/Developer: Ron Scott
Let participant/s read this information. Ask if they have questions. This presentation covers: • A working definition for brainstorming • Value -- Why “brainstorm”? • The main things to accomplish when facilitating brainstorming • A procedure for conducting brainstorming from planning to wrap-up • Sources of additional information
Let participant/s read this information. Ask if they have questions. Other team / group processes should be used to make decisions, such as: • Consensus methods • Voting / multi-voting • Nominal and modified Group Techniques (NGT) • Prioritizing choices and decisions These are explained in the MWR Managers’ desk reference, Task 1.7, Manage Meetings, Briefings, and Presentations .
Let participant/s read this information. Ask if they have questions. Brainstorming can be used to focus on and generate ideas that include: • New products • New/different program activities, events, products or services • Ways to solve existing real or perceived problems or performance inhibitors • Causes of problems and/or solutions to problems • Improvement processes • Goals and Objectives
Let participant/s read this information. Ask if they have questions. A brainstorming session must have a central focus, goal or objective. Otherwise, participant input will ramble and is unlikely to produce sufficient input related to the goal or focus of the session. The idea is to capture as much input regarding the focus as possible. No matter how unrealistic a participant’s input, participants and the facilitator should NOT comment, evaluate, criticize, or otherwise devalue or discount. (Evaluation, prioritization, selection, planning, and implementation come later – after the brainstorming is finished.) The only discussion that should take place is from the facilitator to ensure a participant’s input is correctly and completely recorded. Participants should not elaborate on, or “justify” their input. Explanation, justification, elaboration takes place after ideas are generated and the brainstorming is finished. Brainstorming teams of 8-10 participants are typical and seem to work better than smaller or larger groups.
Let participant/s read this information. Ask if they have questions. Decide why you need to conduct a brainstorming session. What needs to be accomplished? What is the main goal or focus? Attendees may include: • Recreation committee members • Program participants • Command personnel • Ombudsman • Club/organization members • Staff and co-workers Participants should represent typical groups from the ship or command. (e.g., age groups, interest groups, etc.) Diverse representation may generate a wider spectrum of input. Age, gender, race, ethnic and cultural diversity in a brainstorming group is valuable. Use chain of command protocol when asking people to attend. When and where are you going to conduct the meeting? Determine best date and times. Select a location where interruptions are kept to a minimum. (e.g., ward room, meeting/conference area, classroom, office, F&FR facility, etc.) What supplies will you need? What amenities will you provide?
Let participant/s read this information. Ask if they have questions. Follow-up initial notification with a reminder close to the date of the session.
Let participant/s read this information. Ask if they have questions. Refreshments are a good incentive to attend and can help relax participants, establish team rapport and cohesiveness, and set the stage for a relaxed, fun session. Conducting brainstorming session at an “other-than-the-office” site (if possible) may enhance results. (e.g., at beach, restaurant, by the pool, on the lawn, on a recreational boat, at the park, etc.) Matching the meeting environment to the session focus often yields more enthusiastic, concentrated, and effective participation. Enliven an otherwise plain or “usual” meeting site with balloons, music, travel posters, pizza, or other props related to the “focus” of the brainstorming session. If background materials are necessary, give to participants as a “read-ahead” or schedule time before the brainstorming session so participants can review.
Let participant/s read this information. Ask if they have questions. Check in advance of the session to ensure the meeting area is clean, orderly, comfortable, equipped, stocked, and “ready”. Seating around a table works well. Ensure all participants will be able to see the easel and chart paper. Ensure participants will be comfortable. Be aware of possible outside distractions that may occur. Post ground rules where all participants can read. (Typical ground rules are provided in the notes section of the next slide.)
Let participant/s read this information. Ask if they have questions. Unless all participants know one another (and you), introduce yourself, and ask participants to do the same. (Name, position/job, background, etc.) Ask participants to turn off cell phones, beepers, i-Pods/MPs, etc. Ground Rules: Everyone participates. Everyone should “freewheel”; don’t hold back any ideas, even if they seem silly at the time – the more ideas the better! Get outside your box, break your paradigms, think new thoughts, and imagine a better tomorrow! Spin-off ideas “piggy-backing” are encouraged! No criticisms or judgments! The purpose of this session is to gather as many ideas as we can imagine. Be careful of your body language..., a smile or nod may be seen as a positive judgment, while a frown or smirk may be viewed a negative opinion. No groans, grimaces, laughs, ugh’s, or other opinion sounds or expressions. No discussion during the brainstorming session. (That will come later.) If an idea/input is NOT recorded as the participant said/meant, he or she must elaborate or correct until the idea is received and recorded as sent and intended. We’ll go until we’re out of creative juice or until we reach our time limit.
Let participant/s read this information. Ask if they have questions. Briefly describe how brainstorming works. Unless everyone has participated in brainstorming sessions before (ask), start with an ice-breaker demo using a simple subject. Set the focus, ask for ideas, and start recording… Allow all suggestions and comments. Do not be surprised at the response. Set a 3-5 minute limit for suggestions. When you feel like everyone is comfortable and “gets it”, you are ready to move on to the primary focus, goal, or objective of the brainstorming session. Let participants know that doodling is okay – it keeps the mind active, but note taking is unnecessary. You will provide participants copies of everything recorded on the easel paper.
Let participant/s read this information. Ask if they have questions. Write the primary goal or objective of the session on top of the easel page. Get things going with an idea of your own or record the first one provided. - Start writing. - Look to participants to encourage more suggestions. - Capture everything. - Suggest “piggy-backing” the ideas/inputs of other participants. - Use interactive questions. (e.g., Can you elaborate? What do you think?) - Call on group members who are not participating. (It’s okay if they don’t have ideas or inputs, but keep trying to include them.) - Redirect input from any participant who is dominating to one of the “quiet” / “ reserved” participants. - Use positive, non-judgmental reinforcement. (e.g., nod, smile, facilitate with positive body language, and use words, or “lingo”, known to the participants.) - Ask participants to verify you correctly recorded what they said (meant). (But no justification or evaluation.) Know when to quit -- Stop when creativity and ideas seem to be ebbing, but participants aren’t yet looking bored or frustrated.
Let participant/s read this information. Ask if they have questions.
Let participant/s read this information. Ask if they have questions. The review will ensure that ideas, inputs, or actions are legal and appropriate. Do-ability may well depend on location, budget, etc. See Training Nuggets about conducting the RAW Test and Prioritizing Solutions.
Let participant/s read this information. Ask if they have questions. Send follow-up thank-you-notes and include a copy of all participant ideas / inputs. Thank you notes may include any conclusions you have reached regarding the specified goals. If applicable, send a thank you to supervisors for allowing participant attendance.
Let participant/s read this information. Ask if they have questions. Duty 3.0 Tasks in the MWR Managers’ desk reference include: • Task 3.1, Prepare and Maintain Program Activity Calendars • Task 3.2, Prepare and Maintain Detailed Activity/Event Plans • Task 3.3, Conduct MWR Program Activities/Events • Task 3.4, Monitor/Supervise Activities/Events • Task 3.5, Ensure Safe Program Environment As you can see, Duty 3.0 provides invaluable information on planning, scheduling, advertising, promoting, executing and monitoring Program activities, events, products and services. Of particular value to this presentation is the “How To Conduct Brainstorming Sessions” enclosure at the end of Task 3.2. Duty 2.0 Tasks in the Essential Management Competencies desk reference include: • Task 2.1, Solver Performance Problems • Task 2.2, Make Effective Decisions • Task 2.3, Test Solutions/Decisions Using the (R.A.W.) Model • Task 2.4, Prioritize Solutions/Decisions Duty 2.0 gives a complete set of easy-to-use problem solving and decision making tools.
How Are We Doing? Please let us know if this meets your needs, how you use it, what you would add, delete, or change, and other “training nugget” subjects you would like to have. Thanks! Suggestions and requests to: Commander, Navy Installations Command F&FR Training Branch, N947 5720 Integrity Drive Millington, TN 38055-6540 Com: (901) 874-6727 DSN: 882-6727 [email_address]
CREATIVE IDEAS THROUGH BRAINSTORMING Now there are some ideas!