A vital aspect of facilitation is making sure that everyone in your team feels involved. One way the Project Manager can ensure this is by involving all members of the team in generating ideas to solve particular issues. Of course, the whole team can’t be involved in the actual decision making process as to which ideas are selected/adopted – but, at least they can all have the opportunity to make a contribution to the solution arrived at. One technique that you can use for this is brainstorming ideas.
The technique behind brainstorming is essentially explaining to a group of people an issue that needs dealing with and then letting the group members call out spontaneous responses that will be helpful in dealing with it. Needless to say, if not handled correctly you could be inundated with a load of responses that are not, ultimately, helpful or constructive. The key to getting only helpful responses is to brief the group properly and fully before inviting them to brainstorm on the issue at hand. So, as we’ve said so many times before, your preparation as Project Manager will be key to the success of this task. It is essential that, during the brainstorm, all of the ideas are recorded – no matter how far “outside the box” they might seem. In the end all but a few of the ideas thrown up may well be discarded but, amongst all of the ideas called out there’s usually at least one real gem, possibly from someone you wouldn’t have expected to come up with it, that’ll really provide a solution to the issue needing resolving.
Collecting brainstorm ideas.
There are many ways to collect all the ideas put forward, but one thing is essential – make sure they’re all seen to be recorded and don’t just write them on your personal pad. You could use large post-it notes on a wall, a large paper display pad, a white-board or, if you know how to operate them, you could use an interactive whiteboard to create a MindMap … etc. Two more things – don’t do the recording yourself, get one of the other team members to do this, thereby making the team feel the brainstorm really is there’s and, secondly, don’t try and dominate the ideas being put into the brainstorm.