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When done right, new ideas are born out of brainstorms. But it
isn’t easy. It requires the facilitator to set up a safe, creative
space where people feel like they can say anything and not be
judged. This deck is designed to help you create that kind of
environment and ensure you get ideas that our clients fall in love
Inside this deck you’ll find guidelines for the facilitator and their
team on how to run a productive brainstorm. You'll also find some
brainstorming techniques, how to use them and an explanation of
when they are best used. Have a read, play around and the next
time someone says ‘brainstorm’, bring it along.
IDEA GENERATION IS AN ART FORM
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Before the brainstorm
Before the brainstorm occurs make sure that you have worked
through some creative territories and have a strong understanding
of the brief, the product / service and the brand. Make sure you
send the brainstorming team the brief a couple of days before the
brainstorm and also ask yourself the following:
• Is the brief or objective crystal clear?
• Do you feel confident in the creative territories?
• What is the best way to share the brief and the creative
territories with the team?
• Where is the most inspirational place to have the brainstorm?
• What is the perfect mix of participants? Do you want a wildcard
• How you are going to set up or design the room?
• Do you need to bring in the product, previous campaign
examples or anything else to inspire creativity and interest?
• Have you selected the brainstorming techniques you want to
use, knowing you can improvise in the room?
During the brainstorm
Remember, as the facilitator you the are the conductor in the room.
This means it is your job to manage the energy levels, speed up or
slow down the process depending on the ideas being created and
determining when to focus in on a specific idea or territory. Here
are some good rules while in the room to help achieve this.
• Always start by reminding the team about the rules in the room.
• Select a note taker.
• Start with a warm up technique.
• Get people to ideate by themselves before group ideation. This
helps get the teams’ brains going and also avoid group think
right of the bat.
• Always watch out for group think.
• Go for quantity over quality to begin with.
• Build and blend ideas to keep momentum.
• Maintain the pace and make it fun!
SETTING UP FOR SUCCESS
GUIDELINES FOR THE FACILITATOR
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Be in the room
No mobiles, emails or computers
Encourage wild ideas
Build on the ideas of others
Wait to determine if we can sell it in to media
Stay focused on the topic and strategy
One conversation at a time
Go for quantity
Embrace the impossible
Blend ideas to enhance them (1+1=3)
BRING A PEN!
SETTING UP FOR SUCCESS
RULES FOR THE TEAM
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The rhythm of the brainstorm is really important
as you need to ensure you have either a lot of
ideas before filtering them or a few strong ideas
before exploding them out.
While there is no ‘rule’ to follow, in general you
should look to have a brainstorm follow the
THE RHYTHM 01 02 03 04
large batch of
the team or
back out to
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Strengths: This is a great way to start a session and can be used multiple times in a single brainstorm to generate a large bank of ideas.
This technique is good to start a session because it gets people’s brains working, avoids group think and ensures everyone gets a voice in the room to
How to run: Have everyone sit around a table. Share the Territory you want to focus on and ask everyone to brainstorm ideas for the next three to five
minutes. Make sure people only put one idea on each sticky note. Then go around the team one by one and have everyone present their favourite ideas.
Remember, don’t evaluate or judge anyone’s idea until they have been completed and make sure you get the ideas up on the wall. Then ask the team
which ideas they feel are the strongest, or excite them the most. You can do this by talking about it or giving everyone one vote to put on their favourite
idea. You may also ask people to group the ideas to find themes. You may also ask everyone to pick one or two ideas that really stick out of them and get
them to expand on it further in order to flesh out any of the ideas that you feel are strong.
Strengths: This technique is used to start a session and is designed to ensure the team understand the problem from all angles before ideating. The goal
in this technique is come up with as many questions as possible about the topic - but not the answer.
How to run: Provide the brief in the simplest way possible (but don’t give any of the Territories that have been developed). Then give the team one or
multiple stakeholders associated with the brand or brief. We’re going to use their point of view to address the problem. For example, you might include the
consumer, someone that influences the consumer such as their parents, an ambassador or a merchant that sells the product or.
Break the group into smaller teams. Have each team imagine they are one of the stakeholders and get them to develop all of the questions they need
answered, as that person, before they could address the problem in the brief. Use who, what, where, when and why questions to make it simple? It is
important that the facilitator keeps the team moving quickly. If they appear to stall then they should move to another stakeholder.
Have each team present the questions they think are the most important or valuable back to the group and ensure we have these answered.
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Strength: This technique is good for when you have strong ideas, but are struggling to make them amazing ideas. It is also a good technique to use when
you have a campaign idea where specific parts feel stronger than other parts.
How to run: In this session the facilitator explains an idea that has already been developed. The facilitator then breaks the idea into clear separate parts.
This might mean separating out comms disciplines (like the influencer section and the earned media section). Or, it might mean breaking it down based on
the campaign timeline so that you have the launch moment, the media sell in, etc all broken down.
The facilitator then gets the team to focus their ideation on each individual section one at a time. The goal is to explode that single section out so it is bigger
and better. It is important that the team don’t try to figure out how a ideas for that section needs to connect to the other sections while ideating.
Once each section has been exploded, the facilitator asks the team how they would piece the idea back together using some of the newly exploded ideas so
we have a single campaign narrative/timeline again.
BREAK AND BUILD
Strengths: This is a great technique to push people outside of the standard ideas and can also be used as a warm-up technique. It is also useful when the
facilitator is finding the ideas generic or flat. Note: this idea requires preparation before the actual brainstorm for it to be effective.
How to run: In this technique the facilitator preps the meeting by writing a series of random words (objects, people, feelings, etc) and putting them in a
box. To start, the facilitator breaks the group into smaller teams. Each team is asked to take a word out of the box and spend the next 30-60 seconds writing
any words that they associate with that word on a piece of paper (one word per sticky). So, if the word was butter, they might write ‘fatty’, ‘slick’ or ‘shiny’.
Once the team have a series of associated words the facilitator gives them a specific Territory that has been developed and asks them to ideate by
combining the associated words and the territory. You might use one of the other techniques in this deck to help drive this part of the process, such as Sh*tty
Ideas To Get Us Fired.
Repeat this process multiple times to generate a bank of out-of-the-box ideas.
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Strengths: This technique can be really useful when you have strong ideas but want to flesh them out into a campaign. It is a great way to
end a brainstorming session.
How to run: Break the group into small teams. Give each team one of the ideas that you feel are the strongest and a 5 to 15 minutes time
limit. In that time they need to develop a simple but complete pitch to sell back to the team including the insight, strategy, campaign tactics key
targets, and measurement framework. They then have no more than a couple of minutes to pitch the idea back to the wider group.
The goal isn’t to have something slick here, it’s to force the group to flesh out an idea.
THE FAST PITCH
Strengths: This technique is a great way to look at a problem from a different angle or to use the power of another brand to develop ideas.
You can even use this idea to take ideas that have been developed and make them stronger.
How to run: In this technique you get the team to answer the problem or brief from the viewpoint of a famous person or brand. You might
select a celebrity that is famous for doing great things, a film maker that creates great movies, another PR or Ad agency or a brand that
pushes the boundaries in their own comms.
In this technique the facilitator presents the people/brands and also highlights the attributes of those people/brands that they think are
important and unique. It is important that the facilitator defines the attributes so that the team people can reframe how they look at the
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Strength: This technique is great for breaking a large and complex problem down so the team can focus on something that is manageable. This can
also be used when you have a strong idea developed, but not a fully fleshed out campaign approach. Or it can be used when you have a consumer that
isn’t represented well by those in the room.
How to run: In this process, the facilitator preps for the meeting by defining the user journey that the consumer will go through in order to interact or
purchase the product or fix their problem. Each moment is called a touchpoint.
With the team in the room the facilitator then asks each person, or small teams, to take on one touchpoint at a time. To do so they write 1) what the
consumer is experiencing at that exact moment, 2) what problem the consumer is trying to solve in that exact moment and 3) what feelings the
consumer may have at the moment. This is then presented back to the team and each one is called an Empathy Card. Once all Touchpoints have an
Empathy Card, the facilitator assigns the most interesting Empathy Cards to the team(s) and they develop ideas based only on that exact moment in
the customer journey.
REVERSING FROM AVERAGE
Strength: This technique is often good to use when the team are stalled or trapped within conventional thinking. Rather than trying to force them
outside the box, the approach leverages ‘the box’ to develop new ideas.
How to run: In this technique you are trying to get all of the average ideas out and on the table. The facilitator starts by presenting the Territory and
getting the team to ideate only ‘average ideas, those kind of ideas that would be expected or obvious.
Once you have these presented choose the most ‘average’ or ‘obvious’ ideas and in small teams ideate how you could do the opposite. This stage often
needs a strong example so the team understands how to do it. So we recommend that the facilitator moves around the room providing their own
examples to help get the teams in the right direction.
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Strength: This is a great way to approach an idea from the outside in, as it starts with something that exists and then fits it back into the
problem. This is a strong technique when the team has stalled.
How to run: The facilitator starts by getting the entire group to think about different technologies (past, future or present) that could be used in
the campaign. Write each one down on a single sticky note.
Break the group into two teams and split the notes between each. Have each team answer the brief or the Territory by using that technology
to bring the campaign to life.
Another way to run this technique is to take an existing idea that you feel is strong and ask the group to list the three things that the campaign
will be remembered for in ten years time. Then use these to do an ideation session ensuring that the 3 things are baked into the idea.
Strength: This technique is good to use when there are a series of strong ideas on the table that need to be fleshed out. It is also good to use
when the team are not naturally moving from the ‘explode’ stage of the brainstorm into the ‘filtering’ stage.
How to run: If there are a series of ideas already generated then the Building Blocks technique is a good way to explode them back out
again. Breaking the group into an even amount of teams. Give each team and have them build the idea out by focusing on the launch, middle
and end of the campaign. Once done, have them present their thinking to one other team. The teams then switch their ideas and the next
team takes the parts of the idea that they felt were strongest and builds the idea out more. Repeat this a couple of times until you have a fully
fleshed out campaign.
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Strength: This technique is a great way to get large ideas on the table and is especially useful when the team is feeling flat or is not naturally pushing
the boundaries in the brainstorm. It can also be a good way to end a longer brainstorm.
How to run: The facilitator starts by explaining to the team that we want ideas that are so extreme, so out there that just by presenting them to our
client we would likely get us fired. It is important to remind the team that there are no boundaries here at all and every idea is valid.
The group is then broken into teams and each team develops a series of ideas. Each team chooses their favourite two or three ideas and then presents
them to the other teams. Once all teams have presented they pass their two or three ideas to the team beside them.
With their new ideas in hand each team selects one of the horrible ideas to focus on…but this time they need to use it as inspiration to make it pitchable
to a client. It is important that the team doesn’t just create a new idea, but instead should use that horrible idea as the springboard.
SH*T IDEAS TO GET US FIRED
THE DEVILS CHAIR
Strength: A good way to strengthen an idea, explode it out further or pressure test it.
How to run: The facilitator takes the person that came up with one of the strongest ideas. They are put in a chair facing the rest of the group. The group is
given a couple of minutes to develop questions they want to ask about the idea.
The group then poses each question to the person in the chair and they must answer as quickly as possible. The goal is to run through as many questions as
possible in a short period of time so that the person in the chair doesn’t have a lot of time to think through their responses. The goal here is not to answer
everything ‘correctly’, rather it is to unearth all of the questions that we might not be thinking about that need to be addressed before we present it to the
client. It can also flesh out an idea, so make sure you note the answers.
1 2P A G E
Strength: An easy way to get to the bottom of any problem, issue or confusion. And a great way to annoy any parents.
How to run: Just ask WHY five times! Behind every problem there is generally another, deeper problem - if we can dig down enough we uncover the
real issue or opportunity. When given a problem, ask ‘why?’ - why is this problem here, why is it an issue, why is it happening, why do people care etc.
Once you have an answer, repeat.
After five times, you have probably got to a more underlying issue or cause.
This can be used in many ways: to uncover insights, identify problems, find new ways to engage customers, to improve efficiencies etc.
Strength: Use the power of the individual to unlock new ideas then build and better them.
How to run: Get as many sheets of A3 paper as there are participants in the room. At the top of each sheet write a ‘How’ question related to the topic.
If the goal is more people eating mushrooms for example, your questions might be: How do we make mushrooms cool? How do we get mushrooms on more
reality TV shows? How to we celebrate the health benefits of mushrooms? Etc…
Everyone is given a sheet of paper - spend two minutes answering the question at the top. Once the time is up, pass your sheet to the left so everyone has a
new question. Read the question and the answers already there, then either add to or expand on their thoughts, or add your own new ideas.
Repeat until you get your original sheet back. Review all the answers circling your favourites, and go around the group reading the question and the best
answers - discussing as you do.
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