How to Measure the Effectiveness of Brainstorming Sessions?

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How to Measure the Effectiveness of Brainstorming Sessions?
Jeremy Lu, Manager, Australia

Time and time again research shows that in general meetings are only 40% effective, with the rest of it being non-value adding activities. How can we measure the effectiveness of a brainstorming session just run? (Understanding such issues as production block, groupthink and manual collation associated with traditional methods of brainstorming sessions)
- Is evidence of the process sufficient?
- Does transparency of decision making create enough impetus for action?
- Also, if we are to define effectiveness as to how well the problem is solved, or the desired result achieved, what would be the best way to represent this to our stakeholders.

I’ve seen many aspiring leaders "run a workshop" entirely focused on the PROCESS (what happens at the event) rather than on OUTCOMES (what happens because of the event).
The role of the facilitator is to pull together a snap shot of the event at the end of it. Personally, I back this up with data and the "true" voice of the participants as well as incorporating the results of their decision making process of what actions they will take.

But beyond this, how do we measure the effectiveness of the brainstorm session itself? Perhaps it could be as simple as an evaluation with the participants and a follow up statement with the decision makers and those who implemented the strategy which can be attributed to that particular session.
Look forward to reading your comments.

Brainstorming Effectiveness Measurement
Saman, Teacher, Thailand
- Meeting the objectives
- Practical for implementation
- Problems that led to brainstorming need have been addressed/solved
- Participants should include someone who actually faces the problems, an expert or experiential, and care for the better.
- Session is conducted on the basis of pressure free, equal roles, and free expression without interrupt and critic.
- All ideas are to be gathered, analyzed, summarized by an ad hoc team for use by the management team.

Measuring Meeting Effectiveness
Jeffrey W Pferd, Management Consultant
I have used for many years the 'Benefits and Concerns' session at the end of the meeting to get a gauge of whether we accomplished the goals or addressed all the issues. It takes non-judgmental facilitation to get the key concerns exposed, but it is worth getting the early warnings of issues arising. Good topic.
Best regards.

Measuring Brainstorming Effectiveness
CONFIDENCE AGBLOBI-TETTEH, Business Consultant, Ghana
Perfect discussion. Brainstorming’s effectiveness should be measured against the problem at stake: Why was the session commenced in the first place?
Every idea should be recorded just as it was expressed by the discussant.
Certainly these ideas must be scrutinized in the next phase of the problem solving.

Effectiveness - Efficient Participation
Francis Joseph, Director, Dominica
At the onset participants should be made aware of the theme, objectives and expected outcome of the workshop. "Focus on Results" is key to engaging participants that they own the session. Then one would be able to measure participants` effectiveness and quality of their participation.

Measuring Brainstorming Effectiveness
Roy Hiler, United States
Brainstorming is simply a method of generating ideas around a specific question, issue, or problem. Therefore the "effectiveness" of the brainstorming session is measured by the quality of ideas generated with specific regard to the question/issue/problem--or results. Do the ideas address the question/issue/problem? Do they add insight to it? Do they help to address it?

Measuring Brainstorming Effectiveness
odhiambo tom, Manager, Kenya
This topic is timely and will help many people, especially those in public sector. The impetus of any such sessions is a need for solution. The what, why, when, which and how (5WH) must be arrived at for brainstorming to be successful/effective.
If the How to solve it is not arrived at, then the idea will fail. Hence following any Brainstorming session every idea must be thoroughly discussed and ideas synchronized and actioned within a defined time frame and reviewed if goal was achieved.

Measuring Brainstorming Effectiveness
Francesco Ientile, Coach, Canada
You can measure effectiveness from the perspective of a solution, comparing brainstorming results to the problem at hand and whether those results solved the problem. Brainstorming can be an individual activity. But I assume you are speaking of group brainstorming. Measuring effectiveness of a group meeting may also involve a determination of participant engagement or perhaps participant buy-in to the problem and solutions presented.
One could say that if you intend to measure effectiveness, you need to have objectives before starting and measure your results against the objectives; this is not unlike comparing results to problem solutions however in general your objectives could be different and multi-faceted. In contrast, brainstorming is spontaneous idea generation and to creativity which begs the question, 'Can you predetermine objectives when you seek spontaneity and creativity?' In my opinion, amongst the varying methods of idea generation, brainstorming should be free of judgment and measurement.

Idea's of Brainstorming Method
benjamin, Director, Indonesia
I am agreeing with @Roy Hiler. To add: brainstorming must give a result or some alternative result that is possible to implement.
Therefor the question is, was there any result that can be implemented? If yes, it means the brainstorming event was effective.

Assessment of Brainstorming Effectiveness
Gandhi Heryanto, Director, Indonesia
In order to assess the productivity of brainstorming, some explicit quantitive and qualitative measurement criteria are necessary. Then the correlations between quantity and quality are also important to be assessed, for example the total quantity and the number of good ideas. Good ideas were those that were unique and have value in social, economic, or other usefulness.

Brainstorming is not an Effective Method for Focusing
Amir Roggel, Teacher
Refering to classical "group brainstorming" - the first generation ideation method developed by Alex Osborne in the 50s - it is a method and any method’s effectiveness should be related to the parameter it tries to improve:
- Group Brainstorming tries to increase the "DIVERSITY of ideas", generating ideas in a random manner (the aim is divergence ideation such as in creative ad campaigns - the original problem Alex Osborne tackled or "how should we spend our department’s quality of life budget").
- For a group task that requires FOCUS ("divergence/convergence tasks"), more advanced methods should be used. Examples: finding inventive solution to a problem, identifying direction for "significant system improvement" such as business/organization improvement. A facilitator can introduce FOCUSING inputs to drive the group towards a strong direction in context of task/problem rather than a random ideation… The strongest focusing methods are based on system thinking (guided brainstorming), not on "psychological stimulation"...

How do we Measure the Effectiveness of the Brainstorm Session Itself?
Murty Magda Pane, Lecturer, Indonesia
1. The Process
- All participants understand the problem.
- All participants provide ideas to the problem solving.
- The ideas shall align the problems.
2. The Results
- At the end of the session 90% of the agenda’s problems are 100% solved.
- The remaining problems are solved for at least 50%.

Points to Establish Effective Brainstorming Sessions
Dil Prasad Shrestha, PhD, Management Consultant, Nepal
Following points may help measure the effectivess of brainstorming sessions
1. Assess the PROCESS AND NORMS to be followed.
2. Always keep in mind the OBJECTIVE of the session.
3. INVOLVE participants in the assessment.
4. SUMMARIZE the discussion around the topic discussed.
5. AGREE with the participants on the major findings of the discussion.

Measuring Brainstorming Sessions
samson chateuka, Accountant
Board room decision effectiveness may be measured by how well it is understood by implementers of the decision. If implementers don't support it, the chances of success are limited. In the board room it will be theory, the result of a brainstorming may have to be reviewed at implementation.

Brain Storming is a Brain Dump
Nirmala Herrkaur Strange, CxO / Board, United Kingdom
Brainstorming is effectively a brain dump, so it is very important for the coordinator or facilitator of this important exercise to stay focused on why the need arose in the first place. The goal must be to ensure a better insight than before.
In which order one chooses to decipher the key traits, and document them, can be flexible. However the key is to recognize that not a single line item is of waste. All brainstorming outputs have to be carefully considered and respected no matter how 'off the wall' they may seem especially given all participants are competent professionals working in industry.

Using Objectives
Jeremy Lu, Manager, Australia
Great participation and ideas being shared so far by all here. Thank you!
I have really enjoyed reading them and support the notions of:
- Group participation,
- Having all ideas entered
- Having all ideas "heard"
- Having the process and outputs documented quickly for decision making.
- Setting the objectives up front explicitly.

Does anyone use a simple 5 star rating at the end of the event to capture how people went and how do you communicate the decisions from management (even if it is negative) back to the participants who attended on the day?
Perhaps we need to build something that "reminds" management that the people who participated in a particular event are waiting to hear back from them….

Capturing Benefits and Concerns
Jeremy Lu, Manager, Australia
@Jeffrey W Pferd: I like this concept. Jeffrey, how do you capture benefits and concerns quickly and effectively? Do you try to address these on the brainstorming event as well, or is this just something for them to take away as food for thought? I am curious as I was thinking of putting this as a process into my next workshop, though I use digital tools.

Effectiveness of Brainstorming or Entire Case?
Vijay Bhatia, Consultant, India
Brainstorming in itself is only a means and not the end.
Therefore, if the process of participation has ensured quantity, no criticism, welcoming unusual ideas and combining ideas, the process has done its job.
However, since the proof of the pudding lies in the eating, the management's response to the outcome and the success of the resulting implementation, if any, are equally important.
Perhaps we need to record post-process activities and view the entire scenario as a single case. The case is closed when the desired end is met.
We may introduce a format which reads something like "alternatives", "management's response" and "implementation results". This would tell us the gap between the desired and the current state and that should be a measure of the success of the brainstorming in a broader sense.

Brainstorming is About Participation
shaheen, Manager, United Arab Emirates
Has anyone used storm board. It's a great tool for brainstorming. I’ve tried it previously. Works really well. All ideas are collated on electronic post-its and are visual in nature. Great participation and the best part is that ideas are imported in an Excel sheet for further reference. As such brainstorming builds creativity and it’s not only the nature and number of solutions that matter, active participation is of great value too. That’s why I call it a 'mind shower' if you please.

There are no Bad Ideas in Brainstorming
mohanned, Tunisia
There are no bad ideas during brainstorming, all contributions should be appreciated by facilitator.
It’s not necessary to measure the effectiveness of brainstorming sessions, but we should measure the development of the human competence after the sessions.

The Brainstorming Method is Only Half of the Process
bambang subagjo, Business Consultant, Indonesia
@Vijay Bhatia: I agree. We should divide the process into two parts: firstly, the process of GENERATING IDEAS for finding alternatives; and secondly, the process of EVALUATION AND CHOOSING THE ALTERNATIVES.
The mechanisms or methods used in the first part - in this case brainstorming - are quite different from those in the second part - which principally is a decision making process.
Through brainstorming alternatives will be served and selected to feed the second process. It is quite certain that brainstorming is necessary for finding alternatives but is not sufficient for the whole process. Therefor, the effectiveness of brainstorming is to be assessed on the number of ideas or possibilities that can and will be used in the second process.

Brain Storming by Nature Should Be a Creative Process
Eyal Policar, Entrepreneur, Israel
We must indeed differentiate between brainstorming and meetings that are achievement-oriented. Brainstorming should be done when vision is needed, unforeseen challenges are in the making, or, the other way, when disaster is only steps away.
I believe Brainstorming sessions should be done in a holistic environment far away from the office or "earthly" places. The idea is to generate insight and creativity. Remember that participants should be given a few days beforehand to think about the issues at hand.
On the other hand, without proper follow-up brainstorming is pointless.
Therefor success is achieved if and when concrete meetings around the creative ideas that were brought up in the brainstorming sessions are planned.

Brainstorming is a Social Process
Pornpunsa Wuttisanwattana, Management Consultant, Thailand
My perception is that group brainstorming is a social psychological activity where you require the members to bring out their ability and creativity.
The results are twofold:
1. The main result is that you get your issue/problem addressed/solved.
2. The side result is that the relation among the members improves. We may utilize this in some next occasion.

Brainstorming is Part of a Larger System to Achieve Goals
Ed Neri, HR Consultant, Philippines
The process of problem solving and decision making by the manager is one of the primary responsibilities of a manager. Both from a preventive or a reactive viewpoint. In the process of looking for alternative solutions, brainstorming may be used as one method to look for possible solutions.
Two critical elements of brainstorming are spontaneity and quantity. No holds barred (Editor: ~free, with an open mind, unprejudiced). Measures are performed after the session therefore records should be kept on the contributions from each participant.
Ultimately the categorization and choices of the outputs of the brainstorming session will determine the effectiveness of the solution.

Assessment of Brainstorming Effectiveness
Sheryl Nuevo, Student (Other), Philippines
@Gandhi Heryanto: I agree with your statement. Basically, a goal is set before an activity, such as in brainstorming, sets in. That keeps it on track. Parameters are set beforehand so any brainstorming follows through a path leading to a common end, that is bringing answer/s to the matter being considered.

Did the Brains Storm?
Finn Svenning, Consultant, Denmark
You should evaluate whether or not the participants really did storm or shake their brains. What you do with the idea's and how - is completely another question!

Focus on the Objective of the Brainstorming Session
Francis, Manager, Thailand
We need to be clear about the objective. The outcome depends on what set as objective. Here’s the classical way to measure the effectiveness of a brainstorm event:
First what we want to brainstorm about must be clearly spelled out (and written at the top in the center of the board) before we start the actual brainstorming.
All generated ideas are added on one side, while on the other side all selected ideas are translated into actions with linking lines from the originating ideas.
If we get enough action plans then we have been effective.
Effectiveness is the result of a consistent group focus on the objective in the middle of the board.
Bear in mind though that actions are not equal to actual success.

Brainstorming is About Participation
Jeremy Lu, Manager, Australia
@Shaheen: You should also check out GroupMap for customisable, brainstorming that uses simple templates and prioritisation options, along with reports of the results for the session. Enjoy!

Great Discussion on Brainstorming Effectiveness
Jeremy Lu, Manager, Australia
Thanks everyone, really enjoying reading the discussions and seeing the number of people interested in the effectiveness of brainstorming so that it doesn’t just is something we "do", but we’re also focused on the results achieved. Your conversations have sparked an idea that I think we can benefit from which is how people actually get action out of the brainstorming process... Stand by!

Creativity Inside Voice, Outside Dream
zahra gheidar, Consultant, Iran
Brainstorming is a way to increase creativity. If we want to know or measure its effectiveness, we should measure creativity. In my class I measured it by pre+post test study. Its findings were exciting. After training and brainstorming the rate of creativity had indeed increased among examinees.

Assessing Brainstorming Effectiveness
Maurice Hogarth, Consultant, United Kingdom
Brainstorming is a process for applying creativity, to enable 'thinking outside the box' when generating options for a decision i.e. "In how many ways can we… achieve required result".
Typical brainstorming stages are:
1. Establish the success criteria (stated results/out -comes -puts versus resources/inputs) to assess the options against
2. Generate
3. Assess… The options.
There are FOUR rules when generating ideas: Suspend Judgement, Quality not Quantity, Freewheel, Cross Fertilise.
The success of the brainstorming MUST therefore be based on:
1. The practical results (External Validation) how well the ideas met the success criteria and Reverse Brainstorming process, to provide the best balanced decision.
2. Satisfaction with the process (Internal Validation) so even if there is no outcome there is still a commitment and enthusiasm for using the process on appropriate future decisions.

Measuring Effectiveness or Stifling Creativity of Brainstorming?
Yoo Win, Student (MBA), Malaysia
A Brainstorming exercise is meant to encourage all participants to release their "unbridled" creativity to generate as many ideas as possible. By putting in some sort of measurement mechanism, wouldn't that be stifling the creativity flow?

Brainstorming Creativity versus Effectiveness
Vijay Bhatia, Consultant, India
@Yoo Win: any measurement (if at all) comes in only AFTER the process of brainstorming. Therefore, participants are always free to "release the unbridled creativity" because the process has nothing to do with selection and implementation of any alternative. So there is no embargo or restraint on generating ideas.

Effective Brainstorming
Fred Blomsma, Manager, Netherlands
It starts with the reason why you organize a meeting. For example:
- If an inspector is coming within two weeks and you are out of compliance and no ideas how to solve it. The meeting is a success if ideas are brought up to solve the problem.
- In sales it can be different. I believe the meeting is a success if my people are motivated to go after new opportunities they did not thought about before the meeting took place. Every new sale starts with an idea!


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