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John Adair's 100 Greatest Ideas for Smart Decision Making by John Adair

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Idea 87: How to lead a brainstorming session

The best way to get a good idea is to get lots of ideas.

Linus Pauling, US chemist and peace activist

No more than 10 people should be involved in a brainstorming session. Some may know about the field you are thinking about, others may not; a mixture of both is desirable. They should ideally have been trained in the brainstorming technique before the meeting. When you run the sessions:

  • Define the problem (using your analytical and briefing skills).
  • Help people to understand the problem by highlighting the background information and history.
  • Clarify the aim in a succinct sentence: ‘In how many ways can we … ?’
  • Have a brief warm-up session, using a common problem or object.
  • Brainstorm 70 ideas in 20 minutes, ...

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