The 5 biggest brainstorming mistakes

... and how to avoid them

We’re sure you’ve been there, too: The creative industry often requires us to come up with the most original ideas at the push of a button. Of course, that’s not always possible. After all, ideas need to grow. It takes time to develop and refine them. That’s why you should always factor in plenty of time for an effective (!) brainstorming session.

We have compiled a list of the five biggest brainstorming mistakes and how to avoid them.
Mistake #1

Keeping the topic secret until the start of the session

You or your colleagues have set up a brainstorming session? Great! After all, the best ideas are developed as a team. However, keep in mind not to make the first mistake of brainstorming: keeping the topic secret up until the start of the meeting. Why? Well, how are they supposed to come up with some first ideas if they don’t know what it’s all about?

This brings us to rule #1: Share the brainstorming topic with your team at least one day before the session or, even better, together with the brainstorming invitation. That way, they can think about the topic in advance. 
Mistake #2

Your topic is too broad

It doesn’t always make sense to narrow down a topic too much. Likewise, it doesn’t make sense to have no constraints at all. After all, you want your brainstorming participants to know about the desired outcome of your session. This allows you to produce ideas that are conducive to your project and actually usable in the next step of the process. 

An example: You’re working on a new online magazine for a luxury hotel in the mountains of Austria. And that’s exactly what you need to tell your colleagues! If they only know the hotel’s name, they won’t know who their ideas are targeted at.

Rule #2: Choose a specific, targeted topic. 
Mistake #3

The brainstorming participants are all experts

We all know the situation: If you’re too involved in a certain topic, you often get tunnel vision. This is totally normal – after all, you simply know your client or project too well. That’s why it is useful to invite people to your brainstorming session that are unfamiliar with the topic. They often add valuable new perspectives and contribute to fresh ideas. 

Rule #3: Bring in people that are unfamiliar with the project. 
punkt & komma bei einem Meeting im Fireroom. | © punkt & komma
Mistake #4

brainstorming overkill

There’s that point during every brainstorming session where no more ideas are coming. And that’s okay – after all, nobody can be super creative for 24 hours a day. That’s why it’s helpful to limit your brainstorming session to a maximum of 60 minutes to avoid brainstorming overkill.

Rule #4: Limit your brainstorming meetings to between 30 and 60 minutes. If you think that’s not enough to generate a sufficient number of ideas, rather schedule two separate sessions.
Mistake #5

Strategy versus fantasy

“Creativity starts when your mind stops to impair your thinking.” And what could be hampering your creativity more than the constant thought of having to come up with this super mega exciting strategy for your client? That’s why the focus of your brainstorming sessions should be on creativity instead of strategy. Leave the strategy for afterwards, when you have created enough creative ideas. This also makes strategy development a lot easier.

Rule #5: Simply let your ideas and those of your colleagues flow and don’t restrict them. After all, the best concepts have been born from the most absurd ideas! 

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