We’ve all been there. You don’t even have to be in a creative industry like video production to require a brainstorming session every now and then and, if you’ve ever been in one, you know how quickly it can spiral into a colossal waste of time.
Far too often, the people involved split into separate factions with different discussions, feuds brewing, or the entire group just goes off on a tangent and never returns to the point of why they got together in the first place.
But brainstorming sessions don’t have to be this way. They can be hugely productive, if done right, and can lead to an atmosphere flowing with creative juices, ripe for a breakthrough that couldn’t be discovered by any other means.
Brainstorming is supposed to be the time when ideas and pure inspiration circulates freely, moving from one to another, growing and transforming along the way. Eventually, it should lead to merger of styles and sensibilities and, hopefully, take your project to places never before imagined.
Bring something to the table besides your mug.
Our team has a lot of history brainstorming for film or video production and perhaps the biggest cause of a session skidding off track is a lack of preparation. Many people think brainstorming implies that you should clear your mind completely before attending.
That’s not true and, to be honest, that approach seldom works for anything. There’s no logic in neglecting to give any individual thought to the subject before sitting down to brainstorm. In fact, when people show up blank like this, the discussion usually follows in the same fashion.
Yes, sometimes the session can miraculously turn into a productive use of time, but there’s no denying how much time you’ll have to waste before you get to that point. People will need to settle down, be individually briefed, and give it all some thought before offering anything useful.
That’s why it helps to make sure every future attendee knows about the topic and has a rough idea of the project’s objectives, if possible, before attending. That way, each person has the chance to give it some thought and to start to develop their own possible solutions.
This method also ensures that the whole group doesn’t just end up honing in on one person’s idea, if only for a lack of others. Then, everyone gets fixated on that single approach and the rest of the session is spent dissecting that single objective and solution, neglecting the other goals and methods to achieve them.
It’s a brainstorm, not a brain tornado.
What I mean by that is, some people take the whole concept of brainstorming to mean, essentially, chaotic thinking. Connotations like these are actually a big part of the problem.
Many seem to take a brainstorming session as an opportunity to think outside of the box. Conceptually, outside of the box is good, especially in film or video production, but this approach can quickly turn sporadic and become something like a free association game.
Just because you’re brainstorming and your project is just in its early stages, that doesn’t mean some parameters and basic stipulations won’t help.
It can be a huge timesaver to design the session so that it has some type of specialized focus. That way, at least the sometimes sporadic thought process will have firm barriers and boundaries, keeping the goal in mind and thoughts on track.
Brainstorming is about tiptoeing, not leaping to conclusions.
Another cause of brainstorming sessions going off the trail is that people spend too much time focusing on solving some vague issue rather than closely examining all of their objectives.
It helps to lay out the problem and goals, come up with multiple methods to potentially solve the issue, then examine your overall objectives carefully before comparing them. You should approach your goals critically and determine what, exactly, you want to achieve with the project.
The key is to go into as much detail as possible about the specifics of your objectives before even beginning to turn the brainstorming session towards designing solutions. Don’t get ahead of yourself.
Craft the right guest list and keep an open mind.
Right off the bat, it helps to only invite those with a mind of their own. Of course, everyone technically has a mind of their own. Sometimes, though, it just seems only so many use it their own way.
Inviting people who’ll always agree just out of fear of confrontation or job security, won’t form the kind of community that cultivates productive, creative thinking.
You should also always try your best to retain your sense of wonder. Try to see the possibility in any idea, especially early on when they may not be fully formed. No idea should be deemed bad just yet, as it may be a necessary gateway to a good one.
In that way, it’s quantity over quality. It also helps to take a break after the first round to let things sink in and to recalibrate. That bad idea from a week ago may have something refreshing to offer when you look back at it.
Fend off distractions and keep things on track.
Lastly, make sure to minimize the distractions. It’s not always possible in film or video production, but when appropriate, prohibit electronics and any other potential interruption of thought.
It’s hard enough as it is to keep people focused, but if you do your part to get the right ones on board, if those people do their part to bring useful ideas to the table, and if everyone keeps an open mind, your brainstorming session could lead to a river of ideas, rather than a stagnant pond of nonsensical thoughts.
KVibe Productions is a full-service video production company. Whether it’s a product video production, a corporate video, or a commercial production, KVibe offers the total package of multimedia services from development through distribution.