NEWZENGINE BLOG – The concept of the genius is an incredibly compelling and romantic idea. So much talent invested in a single, solitary human being. But do you really think William Shakespeare came up with all those great lines himself? That Steve Jobs single-handedly built Apple?

Posterity has awarded them the credit, but Shakespeare wrote for the best actors of his day, and Jobs ran a company that attracted some of the smartest people in tech. Also, they both lived and worked in communities that at the time were experiencing an enormous surge in creativity – England during the Renaissance and the early days of Silicon Valley.

If you don’t care who gets the credit, then getting into the habit of collectively coming up with new ideas can help propel your company’s success. And this is particularly the case when it comes to content. Press release headlines, blog topics, subjects to write about. It shouldn’t only be the person in charge of marketing who is come up with these.

Sure, the writing, editing, proofreading, and sign-off – someone needs to take ownership of the process. But the best ideas for topics and headlines can come out of a session where a group of people are sitting around shouting words at someone furiously writing them up on a white board.

Nothing too sacred, nothing too stupid, whatever comes to mind.

It is the time-honoured tradition of known as ‘brainstorming’, which I used to think was only practised by highly paid marketing executives when they’d run out of ideas. Then I ended up in a few brainstorming sessions and found out that I was right, and it wasn’t a bad thing, because the collective mind can be extremely powerful.

Here are 5 ways to make a brainstorming session worthwhile:

  1. Be clear about why you are brainstorming. Just like anything in marketing and comms, the result is only as good as the brief. If that isn’t clear, then you are wasting your time.
  2. Everyone comes prepared with a list of ideas, which has taken 5 mins to compile (don’t overthink it) to get the session started
  3. For face-to-face sessions have a whiteboard on hand and a scribe standing, marker at hand, ready to write up the ideas voiced in the room.
  4. There are no dumb ideas, so be respectful of everyone’s contribution. But have a little fun too, because the best brainstorming sessions, like the best conversations, involve laughter.
  5. The optimum result is usually derived from a number of sources. You are probably onto a wining idea when no one can figure out who gets the credit for it.

Go forth and brainstorm!