How to Brainstorm Effectively
What is - and Why use Brainstorming
Brainstorming is nothing new to us, it has been used for decades in order to generate ideas and create solutions to problems. Although, improvements have been made on brainstorming and different approaches have been put forward.
Consciously or not, it is likely that you have tried brainstorming before, during work or in other situations. It is also likely that you have been successful and able to think of creative solutions to problems that you face.
However, there exist more structured and already established ways in how to brainstorm effectively. By following those ways, you increase the chances of successful outcome.
Brainstorming is about solving specific problems, gathering information, generating ideas, encouraging creative thinking, and so on. It’s about thinking openly and excluding all distractions.
Brainstorming Individually or in a Group
Brainstorming often takes place in a group, where people spontaneously participate in discussions. While brainstorming, for a solution to a complex problem, the access to other group members and their wide experience, is of high value. When working in a group, it is much easier to fully develop ideas and evaluate them after the brainstorm session.
However, it is important to limit all out loud opinions of ideas while brainstorming, because people tend to hoard their ideas in fear of criticism by the others.
Brainstorming sessions are also effective when carried out by individuals who might feel more free to write down whatever comes in mind. In that way, it is even more productive to brainstorm alone, and your ideas won’t meet criticism.
But, you won’t get any feedback either, and the diverse thinking is naturally not in place. Those who brainstorm individually tend to look at things one-sided.
First and foremost, you have to focus on create you or your team a surroundingthat will break up your usual mindset. This is done to maximize creative thinking, influenced by the environment. It is far from being enough to gather everyone in a conference room and ask them to come up with brilliant ideas.
Once you have arranged appropriate brainstorming environment, you should try to keep the following in mind - it might inspire brilliant ideas.
All Ideas are Good Ideas
Make sure that everyone is comfortable sharing what they have and hence all ideas are brought forward. It doesn’t matter whether the ideas are good or bad, getting them all gives you the chance of reshape them, combine them, break them down or turn them around. You could start, by throwing one bad idea yourself to give the tone and loosen things up a bit.
Word Games Can Help
A good way to move further away from the usual mindset, is to play word games. One is simple but yet quite effective; write down a word that relates to the topic, then brainstorm a plenty of other words that come to mind. Eventually, you can match words and form a less obvious phrases. Mind maps can prove very useful as well, during brainstorm sessions.
Change the Environment
If the brainstorming session is prolonged or if the sessions are multiple, you should consider diversity when it comes to meeting place. If that is the case, even though you managed to create appropriate surroundings, you might want to make changes on the physical environment.
If you or your team are experiencing difficulties solving a problem directly, try the exact opposite and see where it takes you. This is about approaching the problem from the opposite side. This helps you considering areas that you might take for granted. For instance, picking out or identifying problems instead of generating direct solutions.
After all, there is a number of methods that are known to be effective in brainstorming, but what works best each time depends on several factors. For instance, the group size, personal attributes, the issue complexity, facilities, time, etc.