Effective Questions Promote Effective Brainstorming

Brainstorming often leads a team to the answers you can’t seem to find any other way. And effective questions promote effective brainstorming. Ask the right questions and you’ll get the right responses.

The most effective brainstorming begins with great questions.

For example, what if the team is trying to discern what went wrong on a project?

Perhaps there has been some major fall out and the team has suffered damage, either financially, in reputation or in morale. The questions you ask could determine how well you recover. (By the way, I talk almost weekly to churches in some form crisis mode. This process may help with that scenario also.)

Using that as our example, consider the questions in this post. Some questions will apply to a similar circumstance with your team and some won’t. You’ll need to add some of your own. But see if the principle of asking effective questions can help lead you through an effective and helpful brainstorming session.

Below are 4 words and sets of questions to lead your team in brainstorming. This is simply for illustration purposes, but if I were leading you through this process, (and I’m happy to come help you do that) we would take time on each section, stopping to summarize our findings along the way. Depending on the size of the group, we may break into sub-groups to brainstorm, then come back together to summarize.

The words and questions aren’t “magic”. They are simply a strategy for getting some effective brainstorming questions in front of the group to draw out the conversation.

Again, depending on what you are trying to discover, you would change the words and the questions in each section.

Effective questions for effective brainstorming:

Reflect on the current circumstances.

  • What went wrong?
  • How did it happen?
  • What’s the damage?
  • Who is impacted?
  • How much did it cost us – in capital, momentum, morale and reputation?
  • What are the long-term and the short-term ramifications?

Recalculate based on our current scenario.

  • How can we improve?
  • How do we keep it from happening again?
  • What’s the best way to recover?
  • Who are the right players in our recovery?
  • What are the immediate, mid-range and long-term decisions we need to make, as a result of this?

Recharge ourselves from our loss.

  • Why are we doing what we do? (Our vision should drive us.)
  • What’s our motivation to begin again?
  • Why are we needed? (If we weren’t here, who would miss us – and why?)
  • What are some of our examples of success? (We can build from those.)
  • What can we do to spur new momentum?

(Don’t skip this set of questions. Regardless of the issue, this type thinking is needed every time. You’ll be tempted to ignore them, because you assume you know these, but you always need the energy this type dialogue produces. Depending on the issue, you can’t usually do this immediately as well, because the previous issues are usually clouding people’s minds.)

Reignite the team to move forward.

  • How soon can we begin again?
  • Do we need a relaunch or do a complete overhaul?
  • What’s our strategy moving forward?
  • Who is our spokesperson?
  • What are some short-term, “low hanging fruit” wins we can have?
  • Who needs to do what to get things going?
  • Where are we healthy enough to build upon?

Asking the right questions may determine the success or failure in the days ahead. But don’t miss asking effective questions for effective brainstorming. The time you spend preparing for a session like this is just as important as what happens during the session. 

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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