Gathering Information: Brainstorming


Quick Tips for Team Leaders


By Jeff Oltmann

Oregon, USA

Brainstorming is a method for generating many creative ideas in a short period of time, making it a divergence activity.    Participants call out their ideas as they think of them, so that each person has an opportunity to build on the ideas of others.

The goal of brainstorming is to stimulate creative thinking.    Follow these guidelines:

  1. Don’t criticize or evaluate the ideas – just record all of them
  2. Encourage wild ideas
  3. Hitchhike – combine, modify, and build new ideas on the ideas of others
  4. Encourage quantity


Use brainstorming when:

  1. A broad range of options is desired.
  2. Creative possibilities and ideas are needed.
  3. You need to capture input from a variety of people


Review the guidelines for brainstorming (above) with the entire group. The leader ensures that the group understands the objective of the brainstorming session and the process to be used, then presents the situation in the form of a question.   The question should use wording that encourages specific, tangible ideas, not opinions or vague concepts.  Often it is best phrased as a “why,” “how,” or “what” question.

Then use one of the following brainstorming procedures.


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Editor’s note: This series of “Quick Tips” articles is by Jeff Oltmann, experienced program and technology executive and principal of Synergy Professional Services, LLC in Oregon, USA. The Quick Tips offer simple approaches and models for problem analysis, gathering ideas and input from team members, facilitation and taking action. The tips offered in this series were identified or developed over two decades of helping program, project and team leaders get things done in faster, more agile ways. Learn more about Jeff Oltmann in his author profile at the end of this article.

How to cite this paper: Oltmann, J. (2022). Gathering Information: Brainstorming, Quick Tips for Team Leaders, series article, PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue IX, September. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/pmwj121-Sep2022-Oltmann-brainstorming-quicktips-series-article.pdf

About the Author

Jeff Oltmann

Oregon, USA


Jeff Oltmann is a seasoned leader with over 30 years of experience advising clients, managing successful technology programs, and developing new products. His specialties include strategy deployment, operational and project excellence, and project portfolio management. As principal consultant at Synergy Professional Services, Jeff advises leaders and teams in diverse sectors including healthcare, research, bioscience, and technology product development.

Jeff is the founder of the Portfolio and Project Leaders Forum.  He is also on the graduate faculty of the Division of Management at Oregon Health and Science University and was previously on executive staff at IBM.    He teaches portfolio, program, and project management and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP®).

Jeff welcomes your questions and ideas.  You can contact him at jeff@spspro.com or read previous articles at www.spspro.com/article-library.