image of brainstormingI love storms. Bolts of lightning striking, breaking off, branching out, lighting the sky with brilliance…yet I like brainstorms even better! Those moments when a simple idea becomes a torrent of creativity where ideas are whipping around the room with no barriers or obstacles, those are the moments I crave.

As Phi Theta Kappans, we are always seeking new ideas and experiences and finding ways to implement projects that truly create Honors in Action. However, little emphasis is given to the initial idea-generating process. Brainstorming is just that…a moment of creative freedom and self-expression where every member of the process feels connected and no one holds back; a time where “no” and “that is crazy” or “let’s be realistic” have no place. Imagine if someone dissed that whole “fly to the moon” idea or someone said “impossible” to carrying a phone/computer/video game/social-networking tool in our hand everyday!

So I challenge you to consider brainstorming in your chapter. How are ideas generated? Does everyone have a say? Are you open to all possibilities? Do you smile and laugh? Do you imagine the possibilities? A true brainstorming session is just that…a freewheeling expression of ideas that make you smile and say “why not!” So how about a few mechanics and how to’s for a successful brainstorming session?

  1. Appoint a “facilitator” (notice I didn’t say leader) to keep the session going, help organize the thoughts and ensure that the group stays on task and on time.
  2. Appoint a dedicated “scribe” or secretary to make sure none of your amazing ideas are lost.
  3. Determine a focus for your brainstorming session. What will your topic be?
  4. Sit in a circle so everyone feels connected and a part of the idea-generating process.
  5. Put something unique and interesting in the middle of the table. Some people need a place to focus their gaze and an interesting object to spark that creative vibe.
  6. Make sure that everyone has paper and pens to jot down ideas.
  7. Flipcharts or those super large sticky notes to put on the walls give you a place to record ideas so others have jumping off places and all ideas are remembered.
  8. Make sure everyone is comfortable and that you are seated close together to foster a sense of community.
  9. Now the big one…NO NEGATIVITY or PESSIMISM! All ideas are good and accepted…no matter how farfetched they may seem at the time! Hear them, record them, praise them…shout “brilliant” and keep moving!
  10. And the final requirement: have fun, laugh, giggle, dream and THINK BIG!

Now that you have generated a list of incredible ideas, sit back and review what you have accomplished. See the big picture of your chapter’s combined creativity and begin to see the patterns of interest and possibilities. The best ideas and greatest inventions come from freedom of expression and unbridled creativity! Take your chapter to new heights and let lightning strike!

Written by Steve Fritts, Advisor, Alpha Psi Tau Chapter, Ozarks Technical Community College, Springfield, Missouri.