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February 10, 2020

6 Brainstorming Best Practices to Boost Your Culture of Learning at Work

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Innovative and creative companies surge ahead of competitors, particularly those with a strong culture of learning at work. A key element of that learning culture is an emphasis on collaboration and relationship building.

Group brainstorming is a way to encourage creativity and collaboration. Research by two Northern Illinois University professors discovered brainstorming strengthens feelings of group cohesiveness, contributing to stronger, more effective work teams.

Before you embark upon your next brainstorming journey, consider these six points to reap the benefits of not only great ideas, but a stronger culture of learning at work.

1. Start with a focus on quantity

The NIU researchers determined the enhanced team cohesion experienced by participants of high-quantity brainstorming sessions was driven in part by the number of opportunities for more people to connect with proposed concepts. "As groups sample more ideas, it should increase the likelihood that an idea will emerge that resonates with multiple group members," the study said.

Boost the chances that participants will make lots of suggestions by encouraging a "no judgment" policy. A positive, open approach ensures all ideas are shared and people feel that the brainstorming experience is collaborative and inclusive.

A supportive brainstorming session can transition naturally into further collaborative work once a solution is selected.

2. Encourage "piggybacking"

The more ideas the group considers, the more likely it is that one person's suggestion will inspire a related idea or further development from another participant, according to the NIU study. This practice is called "piggybacking." Piggybacking sparks collaboration among team members, who all feel ownership of the ideas, enhancing their buy-in to resulting projects.

Promoting a culture of supportive sharing, rather than quickly dismissing ideas that seem impractical, will lead to more ideas and open the door to creative piggybacking.

3. Use workplace tools in collaborative brainstorming

A brainstorming session doesn't have to take place at a set time and place. Any organization with a strong culture of learning at work is likely to have a robust learning management system (LMS). Encouraging ongoing brainstorming makes sure everyone is heard, even employees who tend to be quieter in group settings or need more time to process an idea before sharing it.

In fact, an LMS can hold a wealth of resources, such as worksheets, infographics and videos. Participants can use those resources to spark new ideas before or during a brainstorm. Taking advantage of the LMS to host collaborative work and discussion threads enables participants to contribute ideas, share comments and enhance other ideas at any time.

4. Strengthen your dispersed teams

Fostering teamwork and cohesiveness is especially important with geographically dispersed teams. Using the LMS as a hub for brainstorming sessions and ensuing discussions enables teammates to participate across geographical regions and time zones, shrinking the distance between them and solidifying collaborative efforts.

It also enables more employees to participate in brainstorming, as the generation of ideas is not limited to those who can attend a meeting. Employees can upload a video of themselves describing their ideas, for example. Use your LMS to host these videos plus additional content that participants can use to find inspiration or collaboratively flesh out ideas. This will result in better ideas and increased connections among far-flung colleagues.

5. Keep the teamwork going

Coming up with great ideas is only the starting point. Collaboration can continue as team members develop the ideas and consider which ones to implement.

Using the same LMS tools that enable them to gather and share ideas, the team can group related ideas, raise potential issues and ask and answer questions. They can also put their new collaborative work approach into practice on other tasks and problems.

6. Get manager buy-in

For collaborative creativity to succeed, the culture of learning at work has to support it. Managers can encourage collaboration by ensuring employees have time to participate and by noticing, acknowledging and acting on innovative ideas that emerge from the team efforts.

Managers can also encourage brainstorming by ensuring all team members, as well as employees at all levels of the organization, participate and are recognized for their contributions.

Reap the benefits of a strong learning culture

The benefits of creativity and a strong culture of learning at work are clear. Innovative companies outperform competitors and retain top employees longer. Managers see immediate benefits, too, as their employees—whether in the same office or dispersed—gel into an efficient and cooperative team through collaborative brainstorming.

Request a live demo today to discover how Absorb LMS can bolster your team's brainstorming and creative endeavors.