Section A, Part 5

Brainstorming is an effective process for groups to generate a list of ideas or suggestions on a given topic or issue. Keep the following in mind to run the session in an orderly and productive manner.

  1. Set a time limit for the activity. Depending on the issue, the average time for discussion would be 10-20 minutes.
  2. If the group is larger than 12-15 people, form two or more subgroups. Try to get a mixed representation in each one. For instance, all officers should not be in the same group.
  3. Be sure that everyone knows about the issue or topic to be addressed. A brief review of the topic may be needed.
  4. Focus on one issue at a time. If a group moves away from the issue or topic, the facilitator should ask them to refocus.
  5. Each group should record all responses on newsprint, chalkboard, or another way that allows each member of the group to see the responses. Keywords and phrases should be written. It is not necessary to write word for word what was said.
  6. Split up close friends. Allowing them to sit together could encourage agreement, which inhibits the flow of ideas.
  7. Do brainstorming when people are not rushed for time.
  8. Encourage group members to avoid reacting to group suggestions verbally or using body language. This includes showing agreement or disagreement through facial expressions.
  9. If a group has a member or two who have a tendency to dominate discussions, begin the session by taking five minutes to have everyone write down their suggestions on paper, and then proceed with the verbal portion asking members to first share the ideas they wrote.

Used with permission from XCEL Center: The Center for Excellence in Student Leadership, Binghamton University, 1994

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