A great article by Mike Brown from Brainzooming in the USA, this post outlines the 10 signs to look for to know if your brainstorm is finished. Here’s the link to 10 Signs You’re Done Brainstorming Ideas.
1. You’ve reached your time limit.
2. You only have one or two people participating.
3. The pace of new ideas is slowing.
4. The group has reached “enough” possible ideas.
5. The “right” answer has appeared.
6. New angles and perspectives aren’t productive.
7. People get that “look” in their eyes.
8. The brainstorming facilitator gets bored.
9. There’s too much repetition in the ideas.
10. Too many ideas are getting too far off target.
I’d like to add some thoughts, particularly if you need the brainstorm to continue.
1. Take a break. Get people out. Bring in food and beverages, particularly things with sugars (fresh fruit) and caffeine (coffee and tea). Or better yet, which have both: chocolate.
2. Bring in new people. For long brainstorms – upwards of 2-3 hours – I try to get two teams to overlap. One group starts, the other group takes over.
3. Keep plenty of creative games and exercises at hand.
4. Get different parts of the brain working. Getting the hands involved is an easy way to stimulate the brain in new days. I like things like LEGO bricks, clay or building projects. My favourite building project of all is creating a big, mass mood board, using old magazines, images printed out from the internet, or even
5. Sometimes it simply helps to stand up, or move the brainstorm elsewhere – either in other part of the building, moving outside, or down to a local cafe or coffee shop.
At some point, diminishing returns set in, and more so, you’ll get people frustrating to the point they’ll start to dislike the ideas they liked earlier. In this case, pushing forward isn’t the answer, but simply packing up shop and trying again tomorrow.
I have a similar post with more thoughts: Unsuccessful Brainstorms: Now What?
What other ways do you know is the brainstorm over? What type of things have you done to re-ignite the participants?